Even when consumers curb their spending, they have a hard time letting go of their favorite vices. Sales of guilty pleasures such as chocolate, cigarettes, and alcohol usually stay strong during downturns. Now it might be time to add videogames to the recession-proof roster: Last year the industry's overall U.S. sales jumped 19% to $21 billion, according to NPD Group.
"Are you ready?" shouts Josh Ball, manager of GameStop No. 1,782 in Euless, Texas, near Dallas. He's standing before more than 100 fidgety young men and women lined up in the strip-mall parking lot outside his store. They've been here for hours in the warm spring air, waiting for midnight when the latest version of Grand Theft Auto - the ever controversial hoodlums-and-pimps videogame - goes on sale. It's getting close to the appointed hour, and these people can barely contain themselves.
The build-up to next Tuesday's launch of Grand Theft Auto IV is accelerating, with more retailers announcing plans to open their doors at midnight to toast and tout what could be the game industry's biggest opening day ever.
The uncertainty that confronts consumers and investors in the U.S. is staggering. There's the price of gasoline, which creeps higher almost daily; a housing market that month after month gets gloomier and gloomier; and the conflict in Iraq that has cost the U.S. an estimated $3 trillion.
Regional department store chain Bon-Ton Stores, video game specialist GameStop and restaurant chain operator Triarc secured the top three slots in this year's list of the "Hot 100" retailers with the fastest-growing sales.
In a new industry ranking Tuesday, video game specialist GameStop, online merchant Overstock.com and kids' apparel merchant Children's Place took the top three slots in a list of the "Hot 100" retailers with the fastest-growing annual sales.