The games retail market is going through a shift.
Over the past 12 months, specialist retailers have been declining – with 115 game or entertainment shops closing its doors. In contrast, supermarkets have opened 343 outlets over the same period.
The information comes part of MCV’s research into the 14 biggest UK High Street stores selling video games.
Last year the leading 14 retailers had a cumulative store count of 7,335 – this year it is 7,542 – a rise of almost three per cent. Supermarkets make up the bulk of this with 4,148 stores. However, not every supermarket stocks games.
Comparatively, there are currently 2,340 specialist games retailers.
Entertainment Retailers Association director general Kim Bayley says the rise in general retailers selling games is all part of a maturing market.
“It is significant that there are still more games outlets than for either video or music,” she says. “What is true is as a market matures, more mass market and generalist retailers tend to enter the fray.”
Blockbuster UK has had a difficult year. Financial concerns for its US parent means the UK arm is up for sale, and over the past 12 months the retailer has closed 84 of its UK stores.
GAME and Gamestation have also been reacting to tough market conditions, dropping 55 outlets – mostly concessions from clothing retailer Debenhams and defunct book specialist Borders.
However, it’s not all bad news. Entertainment chain HMV had a good year and has opened ten new stores, as has catalogue retailer Argos.
Another success story comes from UK independent chain Grainger Games, which has opened nine new stores over the last 12 months, bringing its total number of outlets up from 20 to 29.
However, the biggest growers have been the supermarkets. Tesco increased its store count drastically – with 197 new shops compared to this time last year. Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda followed with 76, 51 and 19 new outlets respectively.
According to TNS data, supermarkets are rapidly growing their share in games. In terms of the number of titles sold, the grocers’ market share rose from 9.4 per cent in 2008 to 16.3 per cent last year, while their share in value increased from 10.1 per cent to 17.7 per cent.
Furthermore, Gfk Chart-Track data states that more supermarkets sold games in 2009 than in 2008.
It is expected the decline in the number of specialists will continue for the next year, with further closures planned for GAME, Gamestation and Blockbuster. Meanwhile, supermarkets are planning to open more stores, spend more money on entertainment, and even move into pre-owned and digital. So there impact on the games industry is set to increase.