Closing credits roll on Blockbuster, but why did it take so long?

Competitors like RedBox have made it hard for Blockbuster to survive.

Goodbye to the era of the dropbox, the blue-and-yellow membership card, and the bag of movies you might fight over on the couch.

Blockbuster is closing its remaining 300 retail stores and DVD-by-mail business. The company is owned by DISH Network, which bought it out of bankruptcy in 2011.

"I'm never surprised when brick and mortar stores go out of business these day," said Mike Gottlieb, who was renting movies at a Blockbuster in Fair Lawn, N.J. “Because there's so many alternatives on the internet."

Indeed, the number of people watching DVDs on any weeknight has dropped by a third in just four years. At the same time, DVR playback at home has grown. Three times as many people now watch DVR playback as DVDs, according to research from Horizon Media.

Blockbuster has been declining for several years and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Still, it kept several retail stores.

"You know when you close a store, it costs money,” said David Strasser, a managing director at Janney Capital Markets. "Getting things out of the store marking down inventory, just doing all the things to leave that store flat, status quo can sometimes just last a long time."

Other companies have also hung on in a weakened state before closing their stores for good. Linens n’ Things, Circuit City, and Borders Books all suffered similar fates.

Analyst Michael Pachter said retailers selling just one thing are facing an uphill battle in the internet age.

"There's really no reason for specialty retail," he said "unless they offer something you can't get elsewhere."

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.
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