aNb Media News, January 21, 2014

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ASTRA Announces Marketplace Speakers

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced that customer service thought leader Lisa Ford and small business coach Howard Partridge will headline ASTRA’s 2014 Marketplace & Academy. This year’s event will take place June 8-11, 2014, in Phoenix, Ariz.

Ford will open Marketplace & Academy with a talk on Everyday Excellence: Creating a Customer-Focused Team, focusing on what stores can do to inspire exceptional front-line customer service and create loyal customers. She created How to Give Excellent Customer Service, which has been the top-selling business video series in the U.S. over the past three years. Her most recent book is Exceptional Customer Service: Exceed Customer Expectations to Build Loyalty and Boost Profits.

In his closing keynote, Partridge will address the 5 Secrets of a Phenomenal Business and leave store owners inspired to enjoy their businesses rather than being a slave to them.

Visit for the complete ASTRA Marketplace & Academy program. Early bird registration ends February 28.

GameStop Reports 2013 Holiday Sales Results

Video game retailer GameStop Corp. reported sales results for the nine-week holiday period ended January 4, 2014.

Total global sales for the period were $3.15 billion, a 9.3 percent increase compared to the 2012 holiday sales period. Total comparable store sales increased 10.2 percent, with U.S. comps up 7.1 percent and international comps up 17.4 percent. Comparable store sales were driven by new video game console sales as demonstrated by the 99.8 percent increase in new hardware sales.

Paul Raines, CEO, said in a statement, “I am pleased to report that the extensive planning by our entire team over the past year to prepare for the new console launches paid off. Our outstanding execution during the holidays resulted in GameStop securing the No. 1 market share position in the U.S. and in most of the countries in which we operate today. GameStop also had the highest software and accessory attach ratio of any retailer for both new consoles. Building off this momentum, we are in an excellent position to drive the global adoption of the next generation of new video game products in 2014.”

During this transitional console period, strong sales of next generation software were offset by a greater than expected decline in Xbox 360 and PS3 software sales resulting in a 22.5 percent decline in the new software category. The pre-owned category increased 7 percent, driven by a stronger in-stock position and by the sale of value-priced previous generation consoles. Gross margins for the pre-owned category is expected to range from 46 percent to 49 percent for the fourth quarter and the fiscal year.

The “Other” category, as defined by GameStop, saw sales increase by 4.8 percent. Within this category, digital receipts were $207.3 million, an increase of 14.9 percent, and mobile revenues increased 23.8 percent to $94.8 million and now include GameStop’s new technology brands (Spring Mobile, Simply Mac, and Aio Wireless).

GameStop’s global multi-channel sales (mobile, web-in-store, pick-up at store, e-commerce) grew 57 percent compared to the 2012 holiday period as customers utilized multiple ways to purchase video game products. Broken down by type, sales through GameStop’s mobile site increased 47 percent, web-in-store and pick-up at store sales combined increased by more than 120 percent and sales on increased 37 percent. During the holiday-selling period, total site traffic ranked in the top 20 of all online retailers, according to the company.

Also, during the holiday period, GameStop repurchased 800,500 shares of common stock at an average price of $49.39, or $39.5 million worth of stock. As of the end of the holiday period, the company had approximately $467.1 million remaining of its current share repurchase authorization.