Sitting in cars aids Wal-Mart's bottom line
SINCE Digital Slobs often have credit scores that are almost identical to our cholesterol numbers, we're the last group of people that Wal-Mart should turn to for financial advice. A Twinkie focus group, maybe, but not financial advice.
That said, if reports are true, the über-retailer might be misplaying its hand in a high-stakes game with iTunes over movie sales, and this Slob might see a trump card its execs have overlooked.
A bit of backstory: After iTunes began offering Internet downloads of entire Disney movies for $14.99, the New York Post reported that Wal-Mart "warned" the rest of Hollywood it might exact revenge if it joined in on all the online fun.
Unfortunately, whether it's the IRS, your mother-in-law or the world's largest retailer, some things are just too big to ignore, even if they're wrong -- especially if they're wrong.
Sources estimate Wal-Mart accounts for 40 percent of all DVD purchases, though they lose money on each sale. DVDs are "loss leaders" -- a Business 102 term I learned that one day when I was so bored I actually went to class.
Loss leaders are items that lure us into stores so we'll buy a lot more stuff with markups that more than make up the difference.
There's a reason Wal-Marts are so huge -- their unwieldy size encourages groups of shoppers to split up -- divide and conquer. By the time Slobs get to the back of the store and nab the director's cut of "Talladega Nights," our spouses have already filled their carts with $800 worth of Neutrogena skin products in an aisle several kilometers away.
You can't fight it -- mind-controlling scientists and civil engineers have created a perfect, predestined rat maze of consumerism. Are you buying the Cheese Whiz, or is the Cheese Whiz buying you?
However, if Slobs start buying movies online, retailers will have less quality time to train us to jump through all their made-in-China hoops first.
Retailing has always been based on Vegas rules -- the house always wins. However, just like Bellagio, Wal-Mart has to get us in the house first.
But imagine if we had to walk a mile in Wal-Mart's buy-one-get-one-for-50-percent-off shoes. We'd feel threatened as well, unless we strolled through one of its open-all-night parking lots.
Then, we'd see something new and amazing -- Slobs are now sitting alone in our cars, patiently watching video iPods while our significant others shop the night away.
Apple's iTunes may be cutting into Wal-Mart's DVD action, but thanks to the iPod, Slobs have stopped throwing temper tantrums trying to get our spouses out of Garden & Patio because we're missing "Battlestar Gallactica."
Instead, we're sitting happily in our Honda Civics watching Commander Adama outsmart the Cylons on a 2.5-inch screen. Sure, it's not an optimal viewing experience, but it's better than trying to watch a 60-inch plasma TV while being forced to take out the garbage at the same time.
So rather than bury Mr. iTunes, retailers should praise him for a device that removes the last check and balance to rampant consumerism -- weak-link Slobs who want to go home and watch TV.
Perceptive, I know. No need to thank me, Wal-Mart. Just get me on a Twinkie focus group, and we'll call it even.