Placer Bytes: Dave & Buster’s and GameStop

In this Placer Bytes, we dive into two brands in the gaming and entertainment space – GameStop and Dave & Buster’s. 

Dave & Buster’s Expansion Brings Foot Traffic Growth 

Like most other businesses that rely on crowds congregating indoors, Dave & Buster’s took a hit over COVID. But foot traffic began picking already in July 2021, and recent data shows that the brand’s growth streak is continuing in 2022. Year-over-year (YoY) visits have increased dramatically since the height of the pandemic, and year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) foot traffic has exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the past three months. 

Some of the visit increase can be attributed to the brand’s disciplined expansion over the past couple of years. At the end of fiscal 2021, Dave & Buster’s was operating 144 stores in the United States and Canada, and the company believes its total store potential in North America exceeds 230. 

But April 2022 visits per venue were also up 12.5% Yo3Y, which indicates that Dave & Buster’s current success is also due to the increased demand for the company’s offering. As consumers continue to venture out into the almost post-COVID world, many are seeking out experiences or social activities they can’t get at home – and an afternoon at Dave & Buster’s fits the bill perfectly. 

Dave & Buster’s Continued Strength  

Despite the increase in inflation causing some consumers to cut non-essential spending, Yo3Y and YoY visits to Dave & Buster’s continued showing strength in May. Foot traffic for the week of May 16th to 22nd was up by 30.6% YoY and 4.2% Yo3Y. This may indicate that, despite (or maybe because of) the ongoing economic uncertainty, many are still looking for a place where they can get together with friends, have fun, and blow off some steam. 

More and more retailers are experimenting with experiential concepts, and consumers seem to be responding. As brands emphasize experiential marketing, they may well be driving up consumer demand for experiences for the sake of experiences. And companies like Dave & Buster’s – whose primary offer is experiential – stand to benefit. 

GameStop’s Long-Term Boost

Meme investors drove GameStop’s stock price way up last year. But while the share price has tumbled down since its record high in early 2021, the company’s stock has seen some long-term gains from the meme stock craze – GameStop shares are still trading at a significantly higher price point than they were in November 2020. And the buzz around GameStop also appeared to give the retailer a foot traffic boost, with visits during much of summer and fall 2021 quite close to 2019 levels. 

Still, due to the brand’s storefleet consolidation efforts, overall visit numbers have largely remained below 2019 levels for most of 2021 and 2022: GameStop has been on a massive store closing spree in recent years as part of the company’s “de-densification” strategy – in 2019, many of the company’s stores were within 5 miles of another GameStop store which led to high levels of cannibalization. 

But recent data indicates that the right-sizing is bringing the retailer’s brick and mortar operations back to health. The company’s visits-per-venue have stayed close to pre-pandemic visits-per-venue numbers for most of the past seven months, with April 2022 numbers only 0.5% lower than they were in April 2019. 

Visits-per-Venue Remain Close to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Diving into May 2022 data indicates that GameStop’s right-sizing is setting the company up for long-term health – weekly visits-per-venue throughout May remained close to 2019 levels. 

The company is also building out its digital ecosystem. GameStop recently launched a crypto and NFT wallet that will allow users to send, receive, and store in-game digital assets without leaving their browser, ahead of the company’s plans to start an NFT marketplace by the end of July 2022. So although the meme stock trend may be over – it looks like GameStop’s second wind is just beginning. 

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