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GAME sales up over 5% during Christmas

Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One X the key sales drivers

GAME has seen its revenue grow by 5.2% over the Christmas period (November 1st to January 6th, 2018), compared with the same period a year before.

The strongest growth came from the firm's Spanish business, which saw its GTV (Gross Transaction Value) climb 6.3%, although its UK business rose 2.9%, too.

In the 23 week period until January 6th, GAME's overall sales are up 3.8% (0.6% up in the UK and 6.6% in Spain).

It follows an improved trading performance for UK games sales over Christmas, driven by Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X and Call of Duty: WWII. However, the Christmas sales period for software remains softer than it has been in years prior to 2016.

GAME's console margin took a hit during Christmas 2017, too, due to the falling price of PS4 and Xbox One (down 100 basis points for the 23 weeks to January 6th). However, the upside was a significant improvement in hardware sales - driven, in part, by Nintendo Switch, the continued strong sales of PS4 and the launch of Xbox One X. Overall, GAME's hardware sales were up 25.8% during Christmas and 22.7% for the 23-week period.

Although margin had eroded, GAME says it has exceeded its UK cost saving measures (of around £4m), which has offset the margin impact.

Elsewhere, the retailer says it has strong liquidity, with £67 million in cash (up from £43 million in 2016) and access to cash facilities of around £86 million (2016: £68 million). This has been aided by the recent sale of Multiplay Digital for £19 million.

"This positive sales performance for our peak trading period was driven by our ability to capitalise on the strong customer demand for Nintendo Switch, the continued adoption of PlayStation hardware and VR sales, the launch of Microsoft's Xbox One X and a more appealing line up of new software titles compared to the same time last year," CEO Martyn Gibbs said in a statement.

"Over the peak period, GAME focused on its core trading in all channels across both its geographies in highly competitive markets whilst delivering further cost savings in UK Retail and made good progress with its strategic initiatives. These additional cost savings mean our performance remains on track; as ever our full year result will also be subject to continued availability of consoles, such as Nintendo Switch, and the timing and success of new game releases.

"Belong continues to make pleasing progress, with plans to invest in the roll out of further arenas in the UK from February onwards, and we have exciting plans to open our first two arenas in Spain later this year.

"I would like to thank the teams across the UK and Spain who have once again worked exceptionally hard serving our customers and gaming communities over the busiest period of the year. We also recognise the valuable and ongoing support from our supplier partners in delivering our competitive proposition."

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Christopher Dring

Head of Games B2B

Chris is a 15-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who