Video Rentals Up in Wake of WTC Attack

Seeking refuge from the incessantly depressing news of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Americans have hit their neighborhood video rental outlets in unusual numbers recently.

By the end of the week following the attacks, same-store sales at many video stores were up considerably. Businesses such as Movie Gallery and Blockbuster Video were reporting double-digit increases, according to Morgan Keegan & Co. analyst Robert DeLean. "Three dollars and 49 cents is a pretty compelling price for entertainment value," he said. "If people travel less, in light of what's happened, that could mean more entertainment dollar spent at home." Video rentals were boosted by a lack of regular programming on network and cable television, including a moratorium on professional and college sports, and by reluctance to travel.

Blockbuster executive Randy Hargrove agreed: "In times like these, when people are looking for a break from nonstop news coverage, video is an attractive option." The video rental business is basically "recession resistant," DeLean told Dow Jones Newswires.

In addition to splurging on video rentals, Americans also purchased new television sets in unusual numbers immediately after the attacks of September 11. National discount chain Wal-Mart reported a 70% increase in television sales the next day, and—probably indicative of a widespread distrust in cable's reliability—a 400% rise in sales of antennas.