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When folks are out of work, DVD sales soar

WANG Hai works in a small DVD shop in Hongkou District and has seen a big increase in customers since January.

The shop's revenue in February was around 12,000 yuan (US$1,754).

"The Oscars and Golden Globes definitely help, but it was only around 9,000 yuan in February a year ago," says Wang, a movie lover and game fanatic.

"Regular customers tell me they're buying more legal DVDs to force themselves to stay at home, so they don't go out and spend more money. Some lost jobs, so they have more time to watch movies and play games."

Business was especially good this year because many people who used to travel over Spring Festival stayed in Shanghai to save money.

Wang sold more than 500 discs during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday.

He is never surprised at big purchases; he understands since it's the same for him.

The 27-year-old former designer was fired last summer, feels bad about spending money outside now. He started helping in his father's DVD shop, seven days a week, 11am to 10pm.

He watches movies in the shop during the day and plays games after work. He can easily watch a dozen movies in three days.

The shop sell movies, concerts, TV dramas, games and software - seven to 30 yuan for a disc depending on the quality.

Nearby residents can also pay 100 yuan for a membership card to rent TV series. One can rent 100 to 200 episodes with one card, as most Chinese or South Korean TV series contain 30-50 episodes.

The DVD shop is near a large residential area in Hongkou area and depends on the neighborhood.

DVD sales are a big part of the revenue. Wang has sold more than 100 copies of "Revolutionary Road" since the Oscar ceremony. It has issued 3,620 rental cards since the shop opened six and a half years ago.

On average, a person uses up and renews a DVD rental card every three months. That means watching one episode every night; the shop makes 30 yuan from that person per month.

"Now, many people finish a 40-episode series in two days," says Wang. "They use up the card in a month!"


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