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Holiday Sales Soft At Electonics Boutique

8 Jan, 2003 By: Hive News

Electronics Boutique took a 9.1 percent hit in same-store sales in the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 4, although total sales were up, the game specialty chain announced today.

"Comparing 2002 holiday sales to last year's record results proved difficult, with the introduction of the Xbox and GameCube systems in November 2001," said Jeffrey W. Griffiths, president and CEO. "In addition, the continued soft economy and the six fewer selling days between Thanksgiving and Christmas during the 2002 holiday season lead to weaker than expected sales for the video game industry as a whole.”

Total sales for the period increased by 6 percent to $437.6 million from $413.0 million for the same period a year ago, excluding sales from BC Sports Collectibles and EB Kids' stores.

"Because many of our customers are `early adopters', Electronics Boutique received a significant allocation of the sought-after hardware during last year's holiday selling season,” Griffiths explained. “As a result of last year's hardware allocation, the current lower price of hardware and the impact of the soft economy, comparable store sales for November 2002 decreased more than 20 percent and were flat for December. However, post-Christmas sales increased year over year and, if early indications hold, we anticipate single-digit comparable store sales growth during January."

The chain is reaffirming its previous guidance for the quarter ending Feb. 1 of between $1.05 to $1.13 per diluted share.

"We firmly believe in the continued strength of this industry as evidenced by the growing installed base of current generation console hardware in the United States. We now estimate the installed base to be approximately 24 million compared to 10 million last year – a 140 percent increase,” Griffiths said. “This increased installed base will ultimately translate into greater software and accessory sales, benefiting retailers and software publishers. To take advantage of this market opportunity, Electronics Boutique continues to expand domestically and internationally, opening more than 260 stores during 2002 alone."

The company expects to announce fourth quarter and year-end results for fiscal 2003 in mid-March.

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