2/24/2009

Blood money Film sinks fangs into retail woe

A love story with a powerful bite has lightened the retail gloom in the US this Valentine's day as products linked to the hit vampire movie Twilight fly off the shelves, writes Jonathan Birchall .

The film features a romance between a schoolgirl - Kristen Stewart, pictured above with supporting actor Cam Gigandet - and a young vampire and was released in November by Summit Entertainment. Made for $37m (€29m, £26m), and based on a best-selling book series by Stephenie Meyer, it has so far grossed more than $341m worldwide.

CafePress, an online retailer that lets users create and sell goods with their own graphic designs, has been selling 958 designs of Valentine's day cards linked to the film and its star-crossed lovers, with messages such as "Bite me . . . You know you want to".

Sales of Twilight products, including a $46 black "Lion and Lamb" hoodie and a $20 " Twilight broken heart necklace set", have also helped Hot Topic, a youth fashion retailer with more than 600 stores, to outperform most of its US retail rivals over the past three months.

Known for its goth and heavy rock styles, Hot Topic has described its licensing deal with Summit as one of its biggest - outperforming Harry Potter and rivalling licences for Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants .

In the three months to January 31, comparable sales at Hot Topic stores increased by 6.5 per cent, as rival retailers reported double-digit sales declines.

Wal-Mart, the largest US retailer, has also enjoyed strong sales of the Twilight books and the film's soundtrack. It said it would start stocking Twilight clothes and other merchandise in its stores next month, ahead of the launch of the film on DVD.

"It's a phenomenon with women and teens," said Melissa O'Brian of Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart this week also started a community website to host discussion of the film and the books. It is planning special Twilight events in its stores - possibly including car park blood donor drives.

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