Uncertain future for video stores

Share this story

Video stores were once a one-stop shop for family entertainment.

You could pick up a couple of videos, a bag of popcorn and all you had to remember was rewind the tape after you watch it.

These days, thanks to new technologies like movie kiosks, Foxtel Box Office and iTunes, video stores are a thing of the past and are closing their doors at a rapid rate.

One local store attempting to buck consumer trends and get people back into the traditional way of hiring movies is Civic Video, South Penrith.

Owner George Vatis said the most important strength a video store has is being able to service the whole market.

“The beauty of what we offer is if you don’t know exactly what you want, come in and have a look – it’s a social experience,” he said.

“Video stores give families the ability to come in. Mum and dad will select something, a two-year-old can pick something and so can a 10-year-old. There is still an underlying desire for people to want to touch things.”

Mr Vatis, who has owned the Southlands-based store since 1996, admitted the industry, as a whole, was suffering and that Penrith was once a very competitive market. “Are we seeing stores close? Yes, but our store is doing okay,” he said.

“In Penrith alone there were video stores in Glenmore Park, Werrington, Emu Plains – it was by far the most competitive area I’ve known in the industry. I’ve never known a suburb with more stores represented anywhere in Australia.”

One aspect that does concern Mr Vatis and his business the most is movie piracy. Movie piracy costs the industry billions of dollars each year. With faster download speeds and high-quality reproductions it’s only going to continue to steal away the market unless stricter penalties are enforced.

“Piracy worries me the most,” Mr Vatis said.

“With movie kiosks and Foxtel we can make a solid business argument and we can say we can compete against that. But when you talk about piracy, how can you make a solid business case against it?”

General Manager of Civic Video Australia, Rod Laycock, agreed, saying business was tougher than what it used to be and that the physical product is still very much in demand.

“DVD and Blu-Ray is still as popular as it’s ever been. Foxtel is a great service but some people don’t like subscriptions and that’s where the local video store comes into its own,” he said.

A spokesperson from one of Civic Video’s modern day competitors, Hoyts Kiosks (formerly known as Oovie), said research suggests that more and more consumers are switching to the vending machine format.

“As video stores continue to shut down locations, Hoyts Kiosk will continue to invest to expand our DVD Kiosk footprint,” the spokesperson said.

“As long as Hoyts Kiosk is the largest provider of low-cost DVD/Blu-Ray discs, we will have the advantage of being the last company standing in the physical rental space.”

Mr Laycock disagreed and said movie kiosks had their disadvantages.

“Movie kiosks carry around 300 to 1,000 titles, while video stores can carry more than 15,000,” he said.

Do you think video stores will survive? Do you still use them? We want to know what you think. Email us at [email protected].

Share this story