As Kevin Bacon once said: "These are the facts of the case and they are undisputed." So here is what we do know; video game retailer GameStop ($GME) has an earnings call today, Tuesday, June 9, after the market closes. The Zacks Consensus Estimate pegs the quarterly loss at $0.73 per share, alongside a drop in revenue quarter-over-quarter.
Stores closed on March 22, most of which offered curbside pick-up, and store sales fell year-over-year. During this fiscal quarter, executive salaries were cut, rent payments were skipped, and activist investors tried to change the board of directors.
That's what we do know. Here is what we currently don't know: the future! Any of it. Not how the earnings report will actually go this afternoon, not what the stock will do in response, not how the company will do before next-generation consoles release this holiday, and nothing about the Coronavirus or its second wave. It's all a mystery. But using the alternative data we tracked, we can analyze the following charts and see how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic was for GameStop's business these last few months.
That March 22 date, when all the domestic GameStop stores temporarily closed, was also when the employee count (as tracked by LinkedIn data) completely froze. It doesn't account for any furloughs, but stores are mostly reopening and that number should be fine going forward. Unless stores operating as 'curbside and online-only' were so effective GameStop decides to just lay off thousands. Maybe this is an opportunity to find out which stores are underperforming?
Late March was also when job listings began to fall off; 5.5% of all openings were cut since then, a sign that maybe GameStop will keep adjusting their budgets to eliminate any potential fat. It should be lean and mean until the fall, when the launch of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 can keep the brand afloat for the next few years, assuming everyone doesn't just download games directly from home, as digital distribution kills the market for physical game discs.
We've seen the Facebook likes for GameStop go down for years now, but the 'Talking About' count has also fallen significantly. This time last year, when the new releases were being announced at gaming trade show E3, 57,000 people were mentioning GameStop. This year, with E3 canceled due to COVID, it's around 6,000, down 90%.
Speaking of things being down, GameStop's Twitter following is also declining. Without games coming out, things being delayed, many big cities like New York still being closed, and the fear of social distancing in stores, it seems some people don't need to follow the brand online if they don't intend to shop there anymore. Could this be a trend going forward, a mass exodus of both in-store customers and online fandom?
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.