Will Christmas be Merry for Entertainment Retailers?

Monday November 26, 2012

By Luke Butler

ERA members have pointed out all year the folly of suppliers back-ending their release schedules until the final quarter and with less than five weeks still to go til Christmas, the battle is now on to recapture as much as possible of the sales lost in 2012. No one can predict with any certainty where we will end up by the year-end, but a straw poll of ERA board members sees them throwing everything into these final weeks.

So which titles do they believe will deliver the goods this Christmas?


The challenge here is the lack of any titles to match the double blockbuster that was 2011's two volume Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows which last year generated sales of 4.6m units between them. After a very soft year hit by a sharp fall in catalogue sales, all eyes are on The Amazing Spiderman (out November 26) and The Dark Knight Rises (December 3).

Both are likely to be big sellers on Blu-ray. Meanwhile, although there may not be anything to match last year's The Inbetweeners (over 2m copies sold), a strong line-up of comedy from the likes of Michael McIntyre and Mrs Brown's Boys should help raise a smile on retailers' faces.


2012 was always going to a harsh year for games but no one seems to have anticipated quite how slow sales were going to be.

The end-of-year rush is underway and though Call of Duty: Black Ops II was "only" the fourth biggest opening of all time, retailers seem happy that more can be squeezed out of the title. Otherwise there is much anticipation for the new Wii U (November 30) and its accompanying New Super Mario Bros title together with the perennial latest edition of the FIFA series. The dark horse seems to be Skylanders Giants which with its unique combination of gaming plus collectable toys is continuing to climb the rankings.


While 2011 was the year of Adele, 2012 has yet to produce anything to match that once-in-a-decade phenomenon. Favourites for a year end smash are the inevitable Now 83, One Direction's second album and Rod Stewart's 'Merry Christmas Baby', the latter hoping to take off where last year's Christmas set from Michael Buble (1.4m units sold) left off.

Hopes were high just six weeks ago that a strong fourth quarter could well turn things round, but so far at least the hoped-for rebound is weaker than expected.

Suppliers have left it late to release their biggest titles this year, but consumers too seem determined to leave things til the last minute.

Said one ERA board member, "Consumers are spending less and spending later. I think we are running a week to 10 days behind last year and it's going to be tough to catch up."

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