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Quiet quarter for physical entertainment

Decline in shopper numbers, fewer major gaming and music releases, plus HMV store closures cited.

A quiet quarter in the physical entertainment market was punctuated by shoppers seeking more for their money, according to the latest data from Kantar.

A decline in shopper numbers, fewer major gaming and music releases and store closures for HMV meant the overall market declined by 17.4% in the 12 weeks to April 7 when compared with last year.

“After a slow first quarter as shoppers took stock after Christmas, developers and retailers must now reposition and look to promote something extra beyond the obvious benefits physical formats can offer,” said Giulia Barresi, consumer specialist at Kantar. “Now more than ever the market needs to be creative and offer consumers something they can’t get from newer media – and this has started to show.”

Remaking old favourites has been a popular trend in the video game market for some time and familiar names were once again top sellers over the past quarter.

Resident Evil 2 (pictured) – a direct remake of the 1998 zombie classic – was one of the quarter’s most successful titles.

Giulia added: “The trip down memory lane is one reason behind the popularity of remade titles, however over two-thirds of Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy sales and 57% of Spyro Reignited Trilogy’s were by the under-35 category.  Compared with the average new release – where less than half of buyers are under 35 – this shows that revived titles are just as popular with young gamers now as they were in their heyday.”

In good news for the high street, physical stores grew their share of the gaming market for the first time since 2016. The ecommerce giants lost share to bricks and mortar retailers in the past 12 weeks, with online accounting for 44.1% of sales – down from 47.1% this time last year – compared with physical stores at 55.9%, up three percentage points on 12 months ago.

Among consoles, Nintendo Switch took market share from PlayStation and Xbox during the quarter.

TV programmes on Blu-Ray also enjoyed growth of 31% in the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, musicals and biopics continued to dominate among feature length titles on home video.

Following the success of The Greatest Showman and Mamma Mia 2 in 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody was the bestselling title in the first quarter of this year, taken home by 600,000 shoppers in the past 12 weeks. However, overall the physical video market declined by 24%, with sales affected by HMV’s store closures in February.

Artist websites and concert venue stalls are two of the few resilient physical music markets as fans increasingly subscribe to streaming services rather than traditional hard copies.

Giulia continued: “Artist websites and concert venues now account for 7.3% of the market, up from 4.7% this time last year.”

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