ASX-listed retailer, Harvey Norman (ASX: HVN), has announced sales for the six months to December 31, 2008, were 3.5 per cent higher than the same period in 2007.
Sales from franchised Harvey Norman stores, commercial divisions and other sales outlets in Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Ireland (excluding Singapore) totalled $3.15 billion for the six months ending December 31, 2008, according to statement lodged with the ASX.
Like for like sales for the six months ending December 31, 2008, when compared to the same period ending December 31, 2007, increased by 1.4 per cent.
On a quarterly basis, sales totalled $1.71 billion for the second quarter ending December 31, 2008 - a 3.9 per cent increase over the same quarter in 2007.
Harvey Norman's growth has slowed over the past year, with an 8.7 per cent increase in sales for the financial year ending June 30, 2008. Several stores were shut last year, but the company insisted it was growing and not shrinking.
Given the current economic climate, Harvey Norman said retail margins continue to be under pressure.
The retailer's general manager for computers and communications, Luke Naish, was unavailable for comment at the time of publication, however he did reveal in mid-December that gaming and entertainment sales were the standout performers, particularly Wii titles and the Guitar Hero series.
He also cited strong sales of sub-$500 products, like MP3 players, digital cameras, mobile phones and gaming consoles, which helped shelter the retailer from the full brunt of the economic downturn.
Kathleen Lonergan from market research firm GFK said the standout performer in IT over the Christmas period was the notebook category, which also includes netbooks.
“December 08 growth on December 07 growth for notebooks was 50 per cent in units, and 29 per cent in value,” she said, with netbooks making up 21 per cent of that figure.
Harvey Norman’s Naish also warned in December that the prices of consumer IT goods were expected to rise, which could make January and February “interesting months”, he said.