Over the past decade, blockbuster movie & TV panels have become a central aspect of San Diego Comic Con's popularity over the past decade, and it seemed impossible to imagine what the convention might be like with virtually no studio presence. And yet, it seems like the lack of big Hollywood panels at San Diego Comic Con this year (due to the US actors strike) may have had a positive outcome—at least for retailers.
Fans who have been making it out onto the Exhibit Hall floor in the San Diego Convention Center have probably made the observation that it seems busier this year. But has the increased amount of people on the show floor led to actual sales? Popverse had a chance to chat with a few retailers to see how they were feeling about this year’s sales and foot traffic.
“Because folks are not in the Hall H lines, they’re in here."
For independent publisher Silver Sprocket, sales have been noticeably up.
“It’s definitely busier this year because Hall H is closed, we get more foot traffic," says Tori Bowler, a shop staff member at the Silver Sprocket booth. "I think Preview Night was the best Preview Night we’ve had.”
Another independent publisher, Quirk Books, had a similar experience. Quirk's publicity and marketing manager (and author) Ivy Noelle Weir shares that, “Because folks are not in the Hall H lines, they’re in here. We used to be able to predict if there would be lulls but it’s been pretty constant.”
This shift hasn’t impacted only smaller booths and publishers though.
Penguin Random House’s Director of Branded Events (Corporate) Lindsay Elias tells Popverse that this year, “Sales are strong. I can’t say for sure, but having fewer panels in Hall H seems like its increased foot traffic on the show floor and freed up some funds for people to buy books as opposed to autographs.”
And though retailers do have an eye on foot traffic and sales, the change this year seems to have flowed throughout the convention center.
Bandai Namco’s Director of Marketing David Edmondson agreed that the floor felt "more crowded" this year, but also made the observation that the panels he had attended were fuller than they probably would have been in previous years. “A lot more people are going to more niche panels they would not go to before. That’s been really exciting.”
“Sales are strong. I can’t say for sure, but having fewer panels in Hall H seems like its increased foot traffic on the show floor and freed up some funds for people to buy books as opposed to autographs.”
But that doesn’t mean that everyone has felt a bump of foot traffic this year. Though most of the retailers Popverse had a chance to speak to (including a handful not quoted here) have noticed an increase in visitors and sales, a representative from LEGO’s Brickbuster booth mentioned that while everyone was excited to see the Brickbuster Video booth, there didn’t seem to be a particularly noticeable change in foot traffic from last year to this one.
So while this year's change may not have hit every retailer, it does seem like a temporary boon for many of them, at least so far. As for whether or not this increase in sales is something that will last or can be recaptured in future years, only time will tell.
Popverse saw it and did most of it, and you can find all about our guide to All the big news, magic, and moments from San Diego Comic-Con. And if you want to go to SDCC next year, we have the San Diego Comic-Con 2024 dates as well.