Wal-Mart the first retailer to offer video downloads

Filed under: Retail |

Wal-Mart has decided to do battle with Amazon.com, CinemaNow and iTunes.

The retailer is partnering with Walt Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal to sell digital movies and television shows on its Web site.

Two years ago Wal-Mart’s attempt at online video rentals failed.

On the television side, Wal-Mart has tapped into networks big and small, including Comedy Central, CW, FX, Logo, MTV and Nickelodeon.

It will have access to 3,000 productions, with download prices of $12.88 to $19.88 on the day of a DVD’s release. Older movies will start at $7.50 and TV shows at $1.96 an episode.

Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart’s divisional merchandise manager for digital media said the company would create discounts that encouraged shoppers to purchase both DVDs and digital videos.

“There will be customers who download and be done with it,” he said, “but we will have offers that begin online and end in the store.”

Supervalu rolls out DVD rental kiosks

Using Supervalu’s new DVD rental kiosks, consumers use a touch screen and swipe their credit or debit card and go. Customers can keep the DVD for as long as they’d like for $1 per night plus tax, and return their DVD to any kiosk nationwide.

Supervalu’s purchase of more than 1,100 supermarkets from fallen grocery giant Albertson’s moved the chain from ninth to third-place in the U.S. retail grocery market with some 2,500 stores nationwide.

The fully automated DVD rental kiosks can be found in Supervalu’s Acme, Albertson’s, Bigg’s, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Scott’s Food & Pharmacy, Shaw’s, Shop ’n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores, as well as hundreds of the independent retailers it serves through its Supply Chain Services business.

Also, customers can visit www.redbox.com to choose their favorite title online and pick it up at the location of their choice. Each rental kiosk holds more than 500 DVDs, representing more than 70 of the newest movie releases, with new titles available every Tuesday.

Crocs Inc. lands Nickelodeon agreement

Beginning this summer, Crocs footwear will feature popular Nickelodeon characters.

The selection will include a limited edition line of Dora the Explorer and characters from SpongeBob SquarePants.

Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products manages the third largest licensing business in the world. The department handles the merchandising for Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTVN International, and Spike TV.

Retailers’ focus on tech not likely to decline

Retailers are beginning to see payoffs from technology, after spending $43 billion for computer software since 2001, according to IHL Consulting Services.

To keep up with the online shopping, most of that money was used for new sales tools, automation and business intelligence systems.

Online shopping has been around for only about a decade, and efforts to blend stores, catalogs, the Internet and wireless devices into one seamless service is gaining focus.

Retailers are realizing that online shopping is changing customer expectations and are shifting their focus to anywhere a customer expects to place an order — whether it is in a store, online or via cell phone.

Just how far have things evolved? IconNicholson created the Magic Mirror, a dressing room camera that allows a shopper to broadcast pictures of outfits to an invited circle of friends, who can then text message responses which are displayed on the mirror.

And it’s not just stores. The National Restaurant Association asked its members to rank their top priorities for 2007. Technology was No. 1, just ahead of self-service as an option in full-service restaurants.

Some Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Parlors are outfitted with self-service touch-screen menus in booths that offer video games.

Girl of the Golden West opens in Promenade Shops

A women’s western wear retailer debuts this Saturday at The Promenade Shops at Briargate.

Girl of the Golden West also will feature some apparel for men and children, home accessories and artwork.

Owner Phoebe Schmidt said she decided to open the store after an unsuccessful shopping search for some amusing cowboy boots.

Weekly sales up 1.3 percent for U.S. chain stores

U.S. retailers saw positive effects from cold weather and the Super Bowl, as weekly sales for chain stores grew 1.3 percent for the week ending Feb. 3.

Year-over-year sales growth slowed to 4.3 percent, down from a 4.9 percent increase the previous week.

Grocery stores were the main driver behind the increase in sales, with Super Bowl shoppers stocking up on food and snacks, said Michael Niemira, International Council of Shopping Centers’ chief economist and director of research.

February comparable sales are expected to show single digit growth. “For the month, we are on track for about a 3 percent comp-store sales gain,” Niemira said.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.