This week's announcement about weak retail sales over the holidays comes from Hastings Entertainment. Citing lower than expected same-store sales in December, Hastings said it expects to break even on a pre-tax basis for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2003. In November, the retailer revised its per-share earnings guidance down, from 38—43 cents per share to 13—18 cents per share (News, Nov. 25).

The softest segments in December were books, where comparable-store sales fell 1.2%, and video rentals, where comps decreased 3.2%. Chief financial officer Dan Crow said that even though sales improved in January—book comp sales were up 6.9%—the improvement was not enough to offset the revenue shortfall in December.