TAMPA STORES SHRINK SELL-THROUGH DISPLAYS

TAMPA, Fla. -- Supermarkets in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., market had mostly small displays of two major sell-through titles that were released a week apart in early March: Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and Warner's "Space Jam."The unimpressive presentations were due primarily to past problems with shrink, according to suppliers and store personnel. "In the Tampa-St. Petersburg area,

TAMPA, Fla. -- Supermarkets in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., market had mostly small displays of two major sell-through titles that were released a week apart in early March: Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and Warner's "Space Jam."

The unimpressive presentations were due primarily to past problems with shrink, according to suppliers and store personnel. "In the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, retailers have expressed caution with sell-through video, knowing that it is an easily resalable item. It is pilfered," said a distribution executive who asked not to be identified.

"Many supermarkets merchandise the product in a very highly visible area of the store, so that employees can watch the product. Some retailers, in fact, keep the product behind their counters," the executive said.

This was confirmed by visits to stores in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market on the March 11 street date of "Space Jam" and two days afterward. "Hunchback" streeted the week before, March 4. Products were displayed very conservatively and store personnel, like a Kash n' Karry store director and a Publix department manager, acknowledged a strong concern about shrink.

But the older demographics of the area also are a factor in the stores' decisions not to emphasize the family-oriented titles, observers noted. "You have to remember that the average age here is tremendously high," said Michael Wuertz, president of Galaxy Holdings, Tampa, a video supply firm. In some places, that average age is in the mid-60s. "That is definitely going to influence video sales," he said.

The biggest presentations in supermarkets were occasional larger 96-piece shippers, while most had the smaller 24- and 48-piece displayers. Some stores had the titles either on a counter, behind a counter or in a glass display case.

SN noted that the stores farthest from the main population centers, and in affluent suburbs, did more with the titles.

But no extraordinary display efforts were seen in any of the 15 supermarkets visited by SN. Aside from one Kash n' Karry store in Clearwater, Fla., where "Space Jam" and "Hunchback" were combined in the same 48-piece corrugated display unit, none of the supermarkets made an effort to take advantage of the cross-merchandising possibilities of having two powerhouse titles in their stores at the same time.

Executives at Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla.; Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Kash n' Karry, Tampa, declined to comment on their sell-through merchandising efforts in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market. Executives at Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, were not available for comment.

Of the supermarket chains, Albertson's was the leader in merchandising sell-through, just as it was in past SN market surveys. However, the stores did not go beyond putting up shippers of the titles. A 96-piece displayer of "Space Jam" was seen in a Clearwater store, while a 96-piece unit of "Hunchback" was spotted in a Largo store.

Smaller configurations of the titles were seen elsewhere in the same stores, as well as in other locations. The Albertson's stores also carried significant quantities of three major February sell-through releases: Paramount's "Harriet the Spy," which streeted Feb. 25; Columbia TriStar's "Fly Away Home," which was released Feb. 11; and Disney's "Bambi," which arrived in stores Feb. 4.

One Publix store in Palm Harbor, Fla., had a large presentation of sell-through video, including the 20-foot in-line section with about 800 pieces of inventory seen in some of the chain's other marketing areas. This store also had a larger presentation of the recent hits than others visited by SN in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

For example, a large four-sided Disney rack was located front and center in the books and magazines alcove next to the service desk. "Hunchback" was featured prominently, along with other Disney titles. There was a 48-piece shipper of "Space Jam" located next to the service desk, and another 48-piece shipper, combining "Harriet" and several "Rugrats" titles from Paramount, was nearby. "Fly Away Home" was displayed on the shelves at the front of the service counter.

Other Publix stores limited their presentation to 48-piece "Space Jam" shippers and kept other titles either at the front of the counter -- sometimes under glass -- on the counter, or behind the counter.

In a Winn-Dixie Marketplace store in Oldsmar, Fla., store personnel took a special interest in merchandising "Space Jam." On the 48-piece displayer was a hand-drawn sign reading, " 'Space Jam' $14.95 plus $5 mail-in rebate, you pay $9.95. Winn-Dixie, low price leader!" Notably, on the day after street date, more copies had been sold from this shipper than from any seen in other supermarkets visited by SN. In another Winn-Dixie store visited a few hours earlier, the same shipper was nearly full.

However, none of the Winn-Dixie stores visited stocked "Hunchback" or any of the other recent hits. Store personnel said the stores had never received the Disney title.

Two of the three Kash n' Karry stores visited had shippers of the two top titles displayed on the sales floor by the service desk, but a third kept the videos behind the counter.

One Clearwater store -- where toilet paper occupied in-line shelf space vacated by, and still identified as, video rental -- combined the two titles into one shipper and highlighted it with a sign promoting the $5 mail-in rebate on "Space Jam" from Ball Park Franks of Hygrade Food Products, Southfield, Mich. Another store, in Oldsmar, had a 48-piece "Hunchback" shipper and a 24-piece "Space Jam" shipper side-by-side in front of the service counter.

Three other stores visited by SN -- a Food Lion in Dunedin, Fla., a U Save Supermarket in Tampa and a Save 'n Pack in Tampa, did not carry videos.

Among other classes of trade, Target, Minneapolis, was most aggressive about exploiting the tie-in potential of the two major titles. Target featured the two on the cover of its weekly circular, distributed in newspapers Sunday, March 9. A Tampa store visited by SN had about 160 copies of each video displayed side-by-side at the main entrance, along with licensed merchandise such as a "Hunchback" book for $5.99 and the "Hunchback" soundtrack for $8.99 on cassette and $12.99 on compact disc. More copies of the two titles, as well as the other recent titles, were displayed in the store's regular video section.

As in past market surveys, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, both based in Bentonville, Ark., led all retailers in the number of copies stocked. For example, a Wal-Mart in Tampa had about 660 units of "Hunchback" and 720 of "Space Jam" on massive displays in the main aisle outside the electronics department. More copies of "Hunchback" were on a four-sided Disney rack inside the department. There was a "Space Jam" standee at the main store entrance. Wal-Mart carried all the other recent titles.

A Sam's Club in Clearwater had about 350 pieces of "Space Jam" and nearly the same number of "Hunchback." That store also had 90 pieces of "Harriet," 120 of "Fly Away Home" and 120 of "Bambi." Meanwhile, another Sam's Club in Tampa had 600 pieces of "Hunchback," 600 pieces of "Harriet" and none of "Space Jam."

Two stores of Kmart, Troy, Mich., visited in the area had ample copies of "Hunchback" on the Disney four-sided rack, but no indication of the price either on a sign or the packages. A Tampa store positioned the large display in the back of the store, far from the electronics department, while an Oldsmar store had it near the front entrance. The Oldsmar store also had a 96-piece shipper of "Space Jam" and a 48-piece shipper of "Fly Away Home," with about 50 copies of "Harriet" in-line.

If sales success can be measured by the emptiness of the shippers, then the big electronics retailers, Best Buy, Minneapolis, and Circuit City, Richmond, Va., led the Tampa market in moving products. In Tampa stores of both chains visited on the street date of "Space Jam," product was evidently moving, while copies of "Hunchback" were almost completely depleted.

As in other recent Supermarket News surveys of top sell-through hit pricing, most major retail chains are remarkably consistent in adhering to the studios' minimum advertised prices. Drug chains, mall-based music stores and the occasional supermarket are exceptions to this trend. Even warehouse clubs like Sam's are much closer to the MAP than they have been in the past.

'HUNCHBACK' 'SPACE JAM'

Albertson's

2170 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater $16.99 $14.99

Best Buy

1725 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa $16.95 $14.95

Blockbuster Music

Clearwater Mall $16.99 $14.99

Blockbuster Video

300 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor $16.99 $14.99

Borders

909 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa $17.99 $17.22

Camelot Music

Tampa Bay Center, Tampa $19.99 $17.99

Circuit City

2720 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa $16.95 $14.95

Eckerd 3771 Tampa Road, Oldsmar $19.99 $19.99

Kash n' Karry

2519 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater $18.99 $16.99

Kmart

3140 Tampa Road, Oldsmar $16.96 $14.95

Musicland

Clearwater Mall, Clearwater $18.99 $14.99

Publix

36301 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor $16.99 $14.99

Kash n' Karry

2519 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater $18.99 $16.99

Sam's Club

2575 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater $16.79 $14.99

Suncoast Motion Picture Co.

Tampa Bay Center, Tampa $17.99 $16.99

Target

15340 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa $16.95 $14.95

Toys 'R' Us

1702 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa $16.99 $14.99

Walgreens

1081 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater $19.99 $19.99

Wal-Mart

1501 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa $14.95 $16.95

Winn-Dixie

2514 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater N/A $14.95

Borders marked "Space Jam" as 25% off $22.96 list price.

Winn-Dixie stores visited in the Tampa Bay area did not carry "Hunchback of Notre Dame."