GAME takes a pre-lockdown hit as COVID-19 shuts down the high street

Stephan ShakespeareCEO and Co-Founder
March 25, 2020, 11:01 AM UTC

GAME was among the last of the non-essential high street brands to shut down during the coronavirus crisis. As with other Fraser Group brands, the retailer didn’t close its doors to customers until the Government announced that it would enforce a UK-wide lockdown – against existing official advice and amidst sharply declining purchase intention.  

YouGov BrandIndex data shows that the retailer’s UK scores across this metric fell from 3.0 to 0.8 since the beginning of March. Over the same period, consideration rose to a month-high of 16.5 on the 6th and fell to a low of 8.5 on the 21st before rebounding to 13.8 on the 23rd.

Lockdown comes at an inconvenient time for GAME. There has been speculation that the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions – which will see people forced to entertain themselves indoors – could drive an increase in physical sales. March was also set to be a major sales month, and alongside a possible coronavirus bump, console brands may have benefited from some recent high-profile computer game releases. 

Our data shows an upswing for the Nintendo Switch across key metrics. Since Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released for the console on the 20th, consideration has already risen from 11.6 to 16.2, while purchase intent almost doubled (3.2 – 6.2). Doom: Eternal, released on the same day, may have partially driven similar increases for the Xbox: between the 20th and 23rd, consideration rose from 12.1 to 16.4, and purchase intent also saw a slight uptick (3.0 to 4.0).

But if consoles are riding high, the benefits aren’t necessarily translating for physical retailers such as GAME – and with coronavirus keeping people inside, they may need to either develop their online offering or lose out on customers.

YouGov Profiles data indicates that buying games in-person is the top choice for four in ten (39%) British gamers. But a third (34%) purchase from online platforms such as Steam, and a quarter (24%) use the digital PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo storefronts.

Parts of the industry have already pivoted largely to online purchases – fewer than one in ten (9%) PC gamers now buy in-store – and with physical retailers shut for the near future, the rest could follow.  

This article previously appeared in City A.M.