The chief executive of GameStop was blunt in his assessment of how the video game retailer performed during the all-important holiday quarter that ended earlier this month. In short, the retail chain expected things to be bad, but not this bad.
Almost a third of the company’s sales evaporated year-over-year, a drop that GameStop blames in part on everyone just waiting around for the hotly anticipated new PlayStation and Xbox consoles to finally arrive. “We expected a challenging sales environment for the holiday season as our customers continue to delay purchases ahead of anticipated console launches in late 2020,” CEO George Sherman said about the latest sales results. “However, the accelerated decline in new hardware and software sales coming out of Black Friday and throughout the month of December was well below our expectations, reflective of overall industry trends.”
GameStop says its view that things will improve once new consoles arrive is supported by what it says are continuing strong sales associated with the Nintendo Switch, which has sold more than 40 million units globally — and racked up 2 million sales of the Switch Lite within 11 days of its launch.
Unfortunately, though, new offerings from Sony and Microsoft — the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, respectively — aren’t going to materialize in time for the chain to reverse a sales picture that’s so bad, the company has adjusted its sales outlook for the rest of the year. Both consoles should arrive in time for the holiday season later this year, but not before GameStop shutters as many as 200 underperforming stores next month across the US, Europe, and Australia.
The company’s stock has also recently hit a record bottom. “While we expect the challenges that we faced in the fourth quarter to continue into fiscal 2020, we believe we have the right long-term action plans in place to optimize profitability and increase new revenue streams in advance of new console introductions for holiday 2020,” Sherman said.