In 2004, PMA estimates that single-use grew to its highest level of unit sales at about 218 million as roll film slipped to its lowest at 438 million. New ratio: 33% to 67%. For 2005, PMA estimates a further drop of rolls to about 315 million with single-use hanging in with 217 million.
It appears as though the buyer of single-use has been less affected by the thunder of digital. Whatever the reasons for buying single-use in the first place, they have not changed. Folks buying a SUC because they don't want to take their expensive equipment, be it digital or film, to the beach, for example, are still comfortable substituting single-use. Likewise, the customer who left the camera at home or placed one on every table at a wedding reception.
Photofinishers, who, at the beginning of the SUC world in the late 80's were troubled by the extra effort needed to handle the container, now welcome them with open arms--and cash registers. Then again, these days they'd be happy to deal with film that was brought to them pre-loaded in a Sherman tank.
Concord Camera is a player in the SUC business. That firm was the subject in a long April article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel which discussed the financial losses of the firm and that sales of its top three customers, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Kodak, were down. Concord makes Polaroid single-use for Wal-Mart, Studio-35 for Walgreens and, until December, manufactured a large percentage of Kodak Fun Savers. (Kodak made the decision to manufacture all of its Fun Savers models internally.) The firm could well be a beneficiary of additional Walgreens business if Fuji ceased to be a supplier of single-use to the drug chain. PTN