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Trans World Posts ‘Best’ December Sales, Despite Holiday Decline

6 Jan, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Trans World Entertainment Corp., Jan. 6 reported mixed results for the nine-week holiday shopping season from Nov. 1, 2009, through Jan. 2, 2010.

The Albany, N.Y.-based parent company of the F.Y.E. (For Your Entertainment) stores said customer transactions increased 3% while the average purchase declined 9%, contributing to sales of $241 million compared to $287 million during the same period the previous year.

Sales in December declined 5% compared to the same period in the previous year, which was the best monthly performance in 2009, according to Trans World chairman and CEO Robert Higgins. Indeed, November sales fell 14%, with same-store sales (open at least 12 months) during the nine-week period falling 10%.

“We would have liked to have seen something a little better in the comp basis,” Higgins said in a call with investors. “We definitely got affected by the weather [on the East Coast], but in general, because of the improvement in December compared to November, it was a decent month.”

Sales of DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies in December fell 8% and represented 42% of revenue compared to 44% the previous year. Top sellers included The Hangover, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side and Inglourious Basterds.

For the nine-week period, movie comp sales declined 10%.

In a twist, comp sales of music CD sales declined just 1% in December and represented 31% of holiday sales compared to 29% the previous year, due in part to stronger slate of new music releases and aggressive promotions by the record labels. Comp music sales for the nine-week period declined 5%.

Top selling holiday music artists included Susan Boyle, Alicia Keyes, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Ga Ga and Justin Bieber.

Video game sales fell 17% in December as Trans World adopted fewer promotions on key hardware devices, and top 50 game titles plummeted 35%. Game sales for the entire holiday period fell 21%. Games represented 10% of sales compared to 11% the previous year.

Electronics, accessories and trend sales in December increased 1% and represented 17% of business compared to 16% the previous year. Holiday comp sales declined 1%.

Higgins said Trans World remains in relatively sound financial shape, ending the year with $50 million in free cash and zero outstanding on it’s revolving $150 million credit facility.

“This provides more than enough liquidity for operations going forward, Higgins said.

The company closed 137 underperforming stores in the quarter, ending 2009 with total store closings of 161. The chain currently operates 553 stores.

Trans World reports fourth-quarter (ending Jan. 31) and full-fiscal-year results in March.



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