Strong Sales For Retailers During June

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The month of June, and the quarter it closed out, produced strong consumer electronics and appliance sales gains for both specialty and broader-line retailers, according to reports issued last week. Here's a rundown on the results of specialty dealers:

Circuit City said June sales at its consumer electronics/ appliance outlets totaled $724 million, up 13.2% from the same month last year. Comparable store sales rose 8%. Chairman Richard Sharp said the chain had healthy sales gain in "virtually all major product categories." Demand continued strong "for highly featured consumer electronics products and new technologies, especially DirecTv, big- screen TVs, DVD players and wireless communications," Sharp said. During the month Circuit City opened one new superstore, bringing its outlet total to 595.

CompUSA, which reports sales only on a quarterly basis, said volume in the three months to June 26 rose 23% to $1.46 billion, to put fiscal-1999 sales at $6.32 billion, up 20%. Same-store sales were up 1% for the quarter but down 3.4% for the year. The comparable-store sales exclude the results of the 37 ongoing Computer City Stores acquired from Tandy last year. CompUSA said that while its desktop PC unit sales were up 60% during the quarter, the beneficial effect was undercut by average pricing being down 20% from the same period last year.

Musicland credited "strong sales in DVD, trend items, electronics and video games" while reporting a 7.6% rise in June sales to $153.6 million. Same-store volume was up 8.2%

RadioShack sales rose 17% in June to $290.9 million, with comparable stores posting a 15% rise, according to parent Tandy. "Our outstanding sales performance this month is especially noteworthy because it is a double-digit gain on top of last year's double-digit sales increase. The trends we have seen throughout this year continued in June with growth in wireless phones, pre-paid wireless airtime, satellite dishes, and computers. In addition, our core parts, accessories and batteries category continues to increase," reported chairman Leonard Roberts.

Tweeter Home Entertainment, which reports sales quarterly, said revenue for the three months to June 30 was up 20% to $59.6 million. Same-store sales edged up 1.1%, including a 5.1% rise at the Houston-based Home Entertainment chain acquired in February.

President Jeff Stone said the same-store sales results "were slightly off our expectations as we were going up against a 25% comp-store increase from the same period last year. Our margins were strong for the period as a result of a well-balanced product mix and continuing high margins from new technology products." He indicated that Tweeter expects to report earnings for the period of around $800,000, against a year-earlier loss of $588,000.

TV sales jumped 50%, with digital models representing 40% of the volume; camcorder sales rose 17%, with digital models accounting for 78% of the business. Tweeter said direct-view color sales were flat, and sales of VCRs, cassette decks and CD players declined.

On the growth front, Stone said that while the Hi-Fi Buys chain in Atlanta did not meet its same-store sales target, it "has more than made up for a few points of negative comps as it has performed above our expectations in terms of regional profitability. And we still see room for sales and profit improvement in this region."

The planned $5.5 million acquisition of San Diego's Dow Stereo/Video chain was completed at the end of the quarter, and that buy "completes our acquisition plans for calendar 1999," said Stone, adding "ultimately, we anticipate a 30- to 40-store region from Los Angeles and points south." During the quarter Tweeter opened two stores, and with the Dow acquisition, now has 72 outlets.

Among broader line merchants:

Heilig-Meyers reported consolidated sales for June edged up 0.1% to $191.3 million, and that same-store volume was flat.

Kmart had an overall 11.3% sales rise and a 9.2% comparable-store gain in June. It said home appliances placed among "categories showing particular strength."

Sears reported domestic-store revenue rose 3.1% to $2.88 billion in June, with comparable stores posting a 1.9% increase. "Hard-good sales included solid results in home appliances and home office equipment, with double-digit increases in air conditioners and computers," said chairman Arthur Martinez.


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