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Best Buy Posts Flat Winter Holiday Sales

11 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Online sales spiked 10%, which included early retail digital movie releases on Best Buy's CinemaNow

Best Buy Co. Jan. 11 said it generated $12.8 billion in sales during the nine-week winter retail holiday period ended Jan. 5, which was down 1.4% from sales of $12.9 billion during the previous-year period ended Dec. 31, 2011.

The Minneapolis-based consumer electronics chain said domestic sales were flat at $9.9 billion. The company recorded positive comparable store sales growth in mobile phones, tablets, e-readers and appliances. In contrast, comparable store sales in entertainment, televisions and computing declined an undisclosed amount.

The lone bright spot was online where BestBuy.com saw revenue of $1.1 billion, a 10% increase compared with the prior-year period. Indeed, Best Buy's CinemaNow, its transactional video-on-demand site, began offering early digital releases of select studio movies.

ComScore said Best Buy was in the top three most trafficked websites for the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday. Experian ranked Best Buy as the No. 3 retail website on Cyber Monday with 9.3 million visits.

“We were able to improve our domestic comparable store sales trends compared to the performance of the last several quarters and continue our strong traffic growth in our online business,” CEO Hubert Joly said in a statement. “Our holiday selling strategy, backed by a compelling assortment, increased employee training and price-match policy, allowed us to deliver these results.”

Joly said Best Buy remains focused on transitioning into a multichannel retailer, which includes closing sales online begun in stores through price matching. It’s a strategy that will be tested as Target Corp. this week announced it would price match online all year and not just during the winter holiday period.

Analysts contend Best Buy’s winter retail results should keep founder and former chairman Richard Schulze’s bid to take the chain private moving forward.

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