With comparable store sales of books down 1.3% in the fiscal year ended January 31, 2013—after falling 4.8% in 2011-- Hastings Entertainment said it is cutting back the space devoted to books, music and rental as it rolls out new products in an expanded electronics department and adds to its trends section. The bigger electronics department, which include tablets, accessories, and turntables, had a comp sale increase of 12.9% in the year. The new sections are currently in 44 of Hastings’ 137 outlets and the company plans to add them to 61 more stores this year. Books historically have accounted for the largest percentage of sales at Hastings.
In a statement, Hastings CEO and chairman John Marmaduke said Hastings’ revenues “continue to be negatively impacted by the increasing popularity of digital delivery, rental kiosks and subscription-based services, as well as the longevity of the current video game console cycle." The 1.3% drop in book comps was primarily due to lower sales in new and bargain books and magazines, partially offset by strong sales of the Fifty Shades series, Nextbook tablets and used books, Hastings reported. Book comps, excluding digital sales, decreased 2.3% for fiscal 2012. For the year, total sales fell to $462.5 million from $496.4 million, but the company cut its net loss to $9.3 million from $17.6 million.
Marmaduke said he expects 2013 to be “a challenge as we continue to transition to our new business model,” adding that he expects to close eight stores and has no plans for new stores. He noted that Hastings recently cut corporate overhead by a structuring that included eliminating a number of positions. Still, for 2013 Marmaduke expects total comp sales to decline in the low single digits and for the company to post another net loss, though it should be “significantly” lower than in 2012