Why CVS and Walmart Still Print Photos

At a time when most photos don’t go beyond the confines of a smartphone, SVC (SVC), Walgreens (WBA), walmart (WMT)Albertsons and other chains still offer photo prints, greeting cards, books, film processing and other services.

Who still needs to print photos? Well, there’s always demand from some customers: photo services drive traffic to these retailers’ stores, especially during peak holiday, graduation and wedding periods.

More than 50% of photo prints made this year will come from a retail store, totaling about $786 million in sales, said David Haueter, a longtime photo industry analyst and founder of the consulting firm. Above Research market research.

About 4.2 billion 4” x 6” prints will be developed in stores this year, he added.

“People don’t print as much as they used to, but there are still people who like to print,” Haueter said.

Retro technology and older gadgets have a lifespan in part because they allow people to disconnect from the constant ping-ping-ping of their devices.
Gen Z and millennial interest in film cameras has grown in recent years. Photography has become a popular pastime, with the sale of cameras would have points to sites like Etsy (ETSY) and eBay (EBAY). Disposable cameras also have made a comeback with younger consumers, like celebrities like Chris Pine and Gigi Hadid have been spotted with them, sparking interest.

Haueter said many consumers enjoy ordering photo prints and products from stores like CVS because they get the goods right away with no shipping costs. They often go to these pharmacies to buy other things too.

CVS offers photo services in approximately 7,600 stores. “We continue to see strong demand for this service, particularly during gift giving seasons,” a spokesperson said.

More than 8,000 Walgreens stores offer photo services, said Raghu Valata, senior director of digital commerce strategy and planning at Walgreens. “The holidays tend to be a busy time for our photo business, with the highest foot traffic typically seen in December,” Valata said.

Although pharmacies and other retailers have retained their in-store photo services, this is not the solution for all businesses: Costco (COST) and Target (TGT) eliminated them in recent years. Costco closed photo centers in its roughly 800 stores last year, tell customers that “continuing decline in impressions no longer requires on-site photo printing” and that “digital technologies allow consumers to do more with their photos”.

But at Walmart, on the other hand, about 3,700 stores have Fujifilm photo kiosks – usually located in the electronics department of the store and they are used often.

It’s a service that “customers use fairly regularly,” a Walmart spokesperson said, including people who may not have access to a computer to order prints online. “We maintain a healthy business all year round.”


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