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COVID-19

Family Video closes doors in sign of streaming’s strength

Mariah Woelfel Feb 8, 2021
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A Family Video store in Texas in 2015. The Midwest-based brick-and-mortar chain fell victim to changing viewing habits. Michael Barera via Wikimedia Commons
COVID-19

Family Video closes doors in sign of streaming’s strength

Mariah Woelfel Feb 8, 2021
Heard on:
A Family Video store in Texas in 2015. The Midwest-based brick-and-mortar chain fell victim to changing viewing habits. Michael Barera via Wikimedia Commons
HTML EMBED:
COPY

One more sign that streaming services are dominating our viewing habits: Illinois-based Family Video is shutting its doors

The parent company of the large brick-and-mortar movie rental chain, Highland Ventures, noted the COVID-19 pandemic in its decision to close the company’s remaining 250 locations, mostly in the Midwest, after four decades of renting out DVDs, VHS tapes, Blu-rays and games. 

Slow movie production during the pandemic in addition to competition from streaming services have made it harder to sustain a video business model, said Arnez Rodriguez, an industry analyst at IBISWorld.  

“The convenience of streaming services and the low cost of their subscription have quickly siphoned demand from the DVD, game and video rental industry,” Rodriguez said.

He said Family Video stayed open so long because it focused on the family-friendly video market, with $1 PG-13 rentals and free kids’ movie rentals. But that’s no longer enough now that there’s a new competitor in the kids’ market.

“With the release of Disney+, I don’t see that market really coming back,” Rodriguez said.

About 1,200 employees will lose their jobs, according to Highland Ventures. Paige Franson, who’s worked at a Family Video in the Chicago suburbs for five years, is one of them.

“It’s the end of an era, and it’s very hard to accept the fact that there’s not going to be video rental places anymore,” she said.  

Franson said regular customers have been dropping in to say goodbye, including Ben Baker, a mechanic. Baker said he stopped in often to rent movies because he doesn’t have Wi-Fi at home.

“Oh, I hate to see it go!” he said.

Now, Baker said, he plans to look into movie rental consoles like Redbox.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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