By Andrew Randas
LOWER BURRELL, Pa. — Local videogame retailer Gamestop continues to succeed with record sales numbers by providing entertainment and pastimes for people despite the struggling economy.
With the housing, automobile, and credit markets on the collapse, one market is still standing tall in this recession, the U.S. videogame market.
According to Gamestop’s Go Stores website, Gamestop currently runs over 6000 stores in 17 countries and controls about 21% of the U.S. game market.
Revenue in the U.S. market grew 19% in the last fiscal year comparing to the last and more than 70% of the total revenue from the company comes from the American market.
Our local areas have already watched three Gamestops open in the last three years all within about four miles of one another, and they continue to strive.
These stores include: one at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall in Frazer Township, one at the newly renovated Highlands Mall in Natrona Heights, and one at the Hillcrest Shopping center in Lower Burrell.
“People are more conscious now about spending money, said Assistant Store Manager Ivan Holt of the Natrona Heights store when asked about the economy and business.
“People want to spend money on a $30 videogame rather than $30 at a movie theater, he said. People can get more enjoyment from a game because it will last longer.”
Mr. Holt has been working with the Gamestop Company for two and a half years and has worked at the Natrona Heights store for over a year.
He has been at his assistant position for over nine months and is currently attending Allegheny College studying law.
Holt said he believes the recession has created more business for Gamestop but doesn’t see it expanding further into the summer because summertime is usually a slow time for Gamestop.
“Summer probably won’t bring more business because there is usually a draught of game releases during that time, Holt said. Summer also offers more opportunities for jobs which leave less time for games.”
Holt feels the recession has impacted Gamestop in higher sales but his Store Manager, Dwayne Fischer doesn’t think so.
“We don’t necessarily benefit, Fischer said. Gamestop is an establishing business which allows it to steadily increase in business every year. We would be doing better if we weren’t in the recession.”
Fischer has been working with Gamestop for over six years as a store manager and has worked at the Natrona Heights store since it opened a few years ago.
Both Fischer and Holt agree that a majority of their customers are currently jobless or laid-off.
“I definitely see more people who are unemployed, said Fischer. People are buying games to pass the time until they can find a job. I would say about 30 % of our shoppers are currently unemployed.”
Assistant Store Manager Robert “Buck” Lininger of the Pittsburgh Mills store agrees with Fischer’s perspective on the economy.
“The economy has not affected Gamestop, Lininger said. The company has been up in profit since last year. People play videogames to get away from the real world.”
Lininger says that Gamestop’s trade-in programs on games and sales promotions help its business greatly. He also states that this summer will be different from the rest because there are big titles being released each month starting in June until the holiday season.
“The summer will bring more business because of the popular titles being released, he said. We have UFC, Fight Night, Madden, and Tiger Woods being released this summer. These are all big sports titles.”
Lininger has been with Gamestop for about two and a half years and has been working at the Pittsburgh Mills store as an assistant for a year and five months. He has recently been promoted to store manager at the Lower Burrell store.
Western Pennsylvania continues to hold some of the highest ranking Gamestop stores in the company, including the Natrona Heights store, which has recently ranked in the top five in the company in overall performance numbers and the Waterworks store in Fox Chapel.
The district that holds Natrona Heights, Waterworks, Lower Burrell, and the Pittsburgh Mills Gamestops also continue as being one of the best districts in the company as a matter of sales and trade percentages.