July 15, 2011, 5:02 PM

E-retail sorcery

Online retailers cast spells in the excitement surrounding the final Harry Potter film.

Lead Photo

Harry Potter

In celebrating all things Harry Potter this week, e-retailers are waving their magical merchandising wands to spur sales of Harry Potter regalia to fans. Costume, décor and book e-retailers are featuring the Hogwarts crew and related merchandise on home pages where all us hapless Muggles—we humans deprived of any magical talents—can’t help but stumble across it.

Costume e-retailer CostumeCraze.com today is celebrating the thousands of fans who camped out to be among the first to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," the final movie in the long-running series which opened at midnight, by featuring them in a video on its home page. “Potter-mania is alive and well at Costume Craze,” says Jeff Wiseman, vice president of marketing and business development at the e-retailer. “Harry Potter costumes always sell well, but when a movie is out, even more so.” CostumeCraze is No. 480 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

The home page of party supply and costume e-retailer CenturyNovelty.com includes a banner featuring the house-elf Dobby and encourages visitors to shop Diagon Alley, every wizard’s go-to shopping district for wands and cauldrons. Consumers at CenturyNovelty.com’s version of Diagon Alley can buy Harry Potter glasses, Gryffindor school ties and other ephemera.

More than 8% of ticketholders for the midnight showings of the film this morning said they would dress up in Potter costumes for the event, according to a survey of 1,000 movie-goers by movie ticket seller Fandango.com. Fandango yesterday said it had sold out 6,000 midnight screenings of the film and the movie represented 93% of its total ticket sales yesterday. “In the more than 10 years that I've been with the company, I've never seen so many late night showtimes for a single movie sold out in advance,” says Rick Butler, executive vice president and general manager of Fandango.com.

Book and media sellers are getting in on the Potter action too. BarnesandNoble.com made Potter the “featured character” on its home page today and displays links to the best-selling book series written by J.K. Rowling, and the previous films. Canadian book and media e-retailer Indigo.ca features Harry Potter as an editor’s pick on its home page and links to a Harry Potter Shop that says it’s “for all your Wizarding needs.” It shows Potter-themed toys—like a Lego-brand Quidditch Match set—DVDs and books. Visitors to the Harry Potter Shop can also view the movie trailer for the new film. Indigo is No. 177 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

Rick Barretto, founder of HarryPotterWallArt.com, a four-year-old e-retailer that sells life-size wall decals of characters from all seven films, says sales really started pouring in about a month ago. “Right now it is amazing. We are just selling tons of product. There are lots of Harry Potter fans all over the place,” he says. Based on his experience with the previous films, Barretto says he expects sales to remain elevated into 2012, and doesn’t expect to have to close up despite the release of the final film in the Potter series. He likens Harry Potter fans to those of the Star Wars movies and Star Trek TV series, meaning fans will remain fans long after the movie leaves the theater. Barretto spoke to Internet Retailer from Orlando, where he was displaying his wall decals at LeakyCon 2011, a Harry Potter-themed trade show and conference. “The Harry Potter fan is such a loyal and fun fan,” he says.

Wiseman agrees that Harry Potter fans aren’t going anywhere. “Even with the last movie out today, Harry Potter is a brand that will not fade,” he says. “We’ll be selling Harry Potter costumes to my grandchildren’s grandchildren, I suspect.”


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