Different retailer, same story. Brick-and-mortar retailer Hastings Entertainment reported a second-quarter loss of $3.4 million on revenue of $104.1 million for the quarter ended July 31. The loss was a slight improvement from a $4.1 million loss in the prior-year period.
The Amarillo, Texas-based retailer has 137 stores that sell new and used books, movies, video games and CDs in addition to electronics. The trends category of merchandise is increasingly popular. This includes licensed apparel, accessories, novelties, body jewelry - the kinds of items that you might see being sold at record stores in addition to music. Hastings is not a power play (unlike Walmart, Best Buy or Target) but it has been a survivor.
Music retail isn't dead. It's hidden among books, comics and T-shirts. Hastings got comparable sales growth out of every category but music and games. Comparable music sales worsened to 11.6% decline from a 5.7% decline in the second quarter of 2011. In the first six months of 2012, Hastings' music sales registered a 10.8% deficit compared to a 2.1% deficit in the prior-year period. In terms of units, music sales were down 10.8% in the six-month period.
But that's all par for the course these days. Trans World Entertainment's comparable store music sales were down 13% in its second quarter. And overall U.S CD sales were down 13.4% through August 14, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
So these retailers have to look to other categories. Hastings got a 12.1% increase in books and an 11.2% gain in trends in its most recent quarter. Trans World got a 13% gain in trends and a 9% in electronics.
Along with managing debt (Trans World doesn't have any to speak of, Hastings reduced its debt by $17.4 million) and paring down underperforming stores, these brick-and-mortar chains are surviving in spite of poor music sales. Trans World has turned a string of losses (the company isn't too far removed from its in-store digital kiosks) into a first-half profit of $910,000. Hastings has turned its cash flow from negative $12.6 million in the first six half of 2011 to positive $17.1 million in the first half of 2012 ($16 million of that came in the first quarter).