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OPINION: Blockbuster could yet prove viable

Michael French
OPINION: Blockbuster could yet prove viable

No matter what we print about ambitions by supermarkets or GAME, the fact is the number of games retailers has wobbled a bit.

So the news that Blockbuster has been bought is a relief, even if administrators had to close half the shops to secure a new owner.

A month ago many were saying it was more likely that Blockbuster would vanish before HMV. But there are sound reasons to believe that what remains is a viable business.

For a start, Blockbusters debts were relatively small when it collapsed – which speaks of a healthy organisation in place now.

And while its rental heritage is old hat and former management may have made some errors, geographically it served a number of local village or out of town locations that other specialists didn’t. It had, and in some areas still has, a perfect in with otherwise unserved communities.

Clearly new owner Gordon Brothers sees potential, too.

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Confirmation that a new Battlefield is out this year may prove to be a bittersweet announcement for retail.

The year’s five big games (well four annual hits and the GTA-ggernaut) are due in a solid stretch that runs from late September to early November.

If it’s not feast for retail, it’s famine.

The gamer who is able or interested in buying all five games is in the minority. So to is the gamer who can afford all of them. Are parents prepared to dip into three different pay packets to fuel kids’ demands? (Yes, I know they are all 18-rated, but I also know you know that’s not stopping some.)

Of course, moaning about the situation is also unhelpfully contrary – just two weeks ago I said a lack of releases was harming retail. Five bright stars at the end of a quiet summer tunnel  are not to be sniffed at.

And we’ve been here before time and again. So retailers should expect the unfortunate effect of further pushing the money they can make further and further into a condensed period.

But a potentially constrained release period still reinforces the idea that the High Street has a limited throughput.

And after two good years where retailers didn’t resort to price cuts to drive demand, will they be able to hold fire during 2013’s very competitive eight-week stretch?

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Tags: Retail , Blockbuster , hope , viable

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