GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) Q1 2020 Earnings Conference Call June 9, 2020 5:00 PM ET
Eric Cerny - IR
George Sherman - CEO
Jim Bell - EVP & CFO
Conference Call Participants
Stephanie Wissink - Jefferies
Raymond Stochel - Consumer Edge Research
Curtis Nagle - Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Seth Sigman - Credit Suisse
Carla Casella - JPMorgan
William Reuter - Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Bryan Hunt - Wells Fargo
Greetings, welcome to the GameStop First Quarter 2020 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] Please note this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the conference over to your host, Eric Cerny, Investor Relations. You may begin.
Thank you, and welcome to GameStop’s first quarter fiscal 2020 earnings conference call. This call will include forward-looking statements, which are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. Any such statement should be considered in conjunction with the cautionary statements and the Safe Harbor statement in the earnings release and risk factors discussed in reports filed with the SEC. GameStop assumes no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements or information.
A reconciliation and other information regarding non-GAAP financial measures discussed on the call can be found in the earnings release issued earlier today, as well as the Investors section of our website. With me today are GameStop’s, Chief Executive Officer, George Sherman; and Chief Financial Officer, Jim Bell. On today’s call, George will share insights into our first quarter performance and updates regarding GameStop’s strategic framework for the future. Jim will then provide more detail on our financial results and expectations for fiscal 2020. Then, we’ll open the call to take your questions.
Now, I would like to turn the call over to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, George Sherman.
Thank you, Eric. Good afternoon, everyone and thank you for joining us today on our first quarter earnings call. So much has changed since we last spoke to you in March and I truly hope that you're all safe and healthy. Our thoughts are with the people who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the first responders, healthcare workers, and medical providers who are on the frontlines. We want to extend our appreciation for all of their efforts. Our priority has been and continues to be the well being of our employees, customers and business partners during this unprecedented time.
More recently, we've endured a period of social unrest as appalling acts of cruelty have underscored the racial injustice that endures in this country. At GameStop, we stand against this injustice and as an act of solidarity, closed our stores in each of the Minneapolis, Fayetteville and Houston markets through each of the respective memorial services in those markets.
For our time today, I'd like to start by providing an overview of the company's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, a few comments regarding the company's first quarter performance and then briefly discuss the strategic initiatives we're executing to optimize, stabilize and transform our business. Then Jim will review our first quarter financial results and provide a framework for how we’re approaching 2020.
As we approach the fiscal year, we articulated that we expected sales in the first half of the year to be challenging as we are entering the final phase of a seven-year console cycle. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with new challenges, and we're facing them head on. We’re capitalizing on our global leadership position in gaming to support the surge in demand stemming from the changing consumer lifestyle, and the need for entertainment from home and remote work activities.
At the same time, we greatly increased our financial flexibility to navigate during this unprecedented time. In March, part of the closure of all of our U.S. stores, we generated a positive 3% sales comp, then on March 22, we temporarily closed one-third of our U.S. locations and for the remaining two-thirds, we stopped customer access to storefronts, and fulfill orders on a digital only basis, facilitated by a limited curbside pickup service, leveraging our enhanced omnichannel capability of buy online pick-up in-store.
Beyond the U.S., we’re largely closed, generally the customers in our stores, but also our distribution centers in Europe, Canada and New Zealand were either closed or stay at home orders limited our ability to maintain staffing levels effectively leaving us unable to fulfill e-commerce orders. Across our global operations, only Australia, representing roughly 10% of our global fleet of stores remained fully opened during the final six weeks of the quarter.
In that context, we’re encouraged that our global comp store sales were down 17%, well above our expectations and a sequential improvement from our fourth quarter 2019 comp sales decline of 26%.
Equally as encouraging giving our strategic initiative to build a frictionless digital ecosystem for content and commerce, our e-commerce sales which are included in our comparable store sales rose 519% in Q1. I was pleased with our team's ability to adapt quickly and despite significant disruption, stores managed to retain most of their planned sales volume to online and curbside pickup, and delivered total sales for the quarter just shy of original expectations.
By category, we saw a surge in demand for hardware and for a limited number of new software titles and while the mix shift toward hardware comes at a lower margin, the demand demonstrates that GameStop is the top destination for gaming needs. The Nintendo Switch continues to perform well far exceeding our expectations, with sales increasing during the quarter compared to last year. In fact, we believe we sold more Nintendo Switch consoles than any other retailer or e-commerce business globally in the first quarter.
With a surge in demand for gaming resulting in limited hardware in stores, and OEM manufacturers not in a position to ramp-up supply chain production in the last few months of the seven-year console cycle, we’re able to leverage our unique buy-sell-trade competitive advantage to supplement hardware demand from customers who are new entrants into the category.
From a software perspective, we expected the category to decline for the quarter given a weak title slate at the end of the console cycle. However, the decline was exacerbated by several titles that shifted into the second and third quarters due to COVID-19. For those new release titles that did launch, we experienced strong growth far exceeding our expectations.
The increased demand for gaming and entertainment has turned good title releases into great title releases as customers seek entertainment options. In terms of SG&A, we continue to focus on our long-term expense reduction efforts and despite the additional cost de-leveraging pressures in closed stores, we reduced adjusted SG&A by 16% year-over-year.
Importantly, our adjusted SG&A includes over $21 million of incremental COVID-19 related costs we incurred, including our decision to support our hourly associate base by paying an additional two weeks of pay or for those eligible paid time-off to ease some of the burden of the impact of the pandemic related mandated store closures.
Importantly, the quarter saw strong progress in our priorities. Typically, we share with you four strategic pillars. Today, I’ll focus on our pillars of optimize the core business by improving efficiency and effectiveness across the organization, and building a frictionless digital ecosystem to reach GameStop customers. As it relates to optimizing the core, the first quarter saw significant financial progress.
We continue to deliver on our goal to greatly improve working capital, executing a 43% reduction in inventory at quarter-end, and a 54% decline in accounts payable, all while maintaining $570 million in cash at the end of the quarter. Regarding our efforts to build a frictionless digital ecosystem, we advanced this initiative by leveraging our improved fulfillment capabilities, which led to the recapture of sales who stores open for limited curbside pickup during the quarter.
During the weeks following our store closures to customers, we saw e-commerce sales surge in some weeks to over 1500% year-over-your growth and 519% for the entire quarter versus last year. Total e-commerce sales grew to over 50% of total company sales during the period. As we enter the second quarter, we've begun the global phase reopening of stores that were temporarily closed. As of today, we’re nearly 90% reopened around the world to either safe, limited customer access for curbside pick-up, obviously we have several stores that have been impacted by the recent social unrest in the United States. And we continue to focus on the safety of our associates and customers.
We have had roughly 100 stores of our 3,500 locations in the U.S. impacted by temporary closure due to physical damage and looting. To-date, we've reopened about 35% of those locations, but we anticipate another 35 or about one-third of those locations will be closed for the foreseeable future given extensive damage. While early we’re relatively pleased with the performance of the reopen locations, there's a ramp to these stores as they reopen.
We're analyzing the return of traffic to these locations to third-party mobility indices being published and are finding some correlation as our experience has so far shown a reopening ramp of three to four weeks before sales build back to our expectations. We know that our ability to reopen our stores is only part of the equation. Customers need to continue to feel comfortable getting out, interacting in our stores and with our associates.
To that end, we have and continued to strictly follow all published CDC and local guidelines to create a safe and enjoyable experience for the customer. I'd also like to welcome three newly appointed Directors to our board, all of whom joined us during the quarter. These appointments represent an important milestone in GameStop’s transformation, as we continue to evolve the company's business strategy for long-term success.
We’ve already benefited from our new board members expertise and perspectives as we navigate the evolving gaming and omnichannel retail environments, execute on our strategic initiatives, and prepare the company to maximize value creation associated with the next generation of console launches later this year.
Before turning the call over to Jim, I'd like to share why I'm confident that GameStop has a bright future. We possess several unique competitive advantages and are developing and implementing initiatives to make us more efficient and better able to fully capitalize on the new console cycle later this year. First, we have a strong leadership position in gaming and a strong loyalty base of consumers that we can monetize through revenue sharing partnerships.
Second, we operate a global network of stores with team members that are experts in gaming. This gives us an advantage as new consoles are introduced as we’ll be the go to source for education on the advanced technology, how to use the systems, along with all the newly advanced accessories that go along with them. Third, we're capitalizing on our digital capabilities, and our strong and extensible omnichannel capabilities. We’ll continue to build on this strong foundation and advance our end-to-end customer experience, fourth, we’re more efficient across our enterprise and continue to find ways to further optimize our operations.
As such, we expect to drive margin improvement as sales stabilize. As mentioned in our press release, we expect to deliver positive adjusted EBITDA in 2020, fifth, we’re strongly capitalized and have the liquidity to navigate the current macro environment challenges and invest in our strategy. So while we expect the challenges we faced in Q1 to continue into Q2, we also expect to make more progress in our strategic pillars and deliver improved performance during the second half of the year.
Now let me turn the call over to Jim to discuss our financials in response to COVID-19 in more detail.
Thank you, George. Good afternoon, everyone. I'd like to take this time to walk you through our first quarter fiscal 2020 results. I'll then share some insights into how we're approaching the remainder of the year. As George just discussed, our number one priority is the health and safety of our associates, customers and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as such in March, we temporarily closed approximately 76% of the company’s 1,802 international stores. On March 22, we temporarily closed all of our 3,526 U.S. locations, two-thirds of which were close to any direct customer access, but did conduct a limited curbside pickup offering leveraging our omnichannel buy online pick up in-store and ship-from-store capabilities.
During the remainder of the first quarter, approximately 10% of the global fleet which was primarily our Australian Business Unit remained fully opened and accessible to customers. Despite the impact of store closures around the world, our business in Q1 reflected three primary elements first, a surge in gaming and work from home products. Secondly, the power of GameStop’s deep omnichannel engagement with its loyal customer base, and finally, the ability of our teams around the world to quickly adapt to meet increased product demand, despite the limited ability to meet face-to-face with our customers.
In that light, for the first fiscal quarter, we delivered a global comp store sales decline of 17%. Consistent with other retailers, these results exclude the stores that were closed for longer than two contiguous weeks during the quarter. Importantly, despite these closures and limited operations during the peak pandemic weeks, our global sales comp for fiscal March was a decline of 0.7% and April was a decline of 14.4%. In the fiscal month of May, we realized comp sales decline of approximately 4%. As you can see in contrast to the fiscal fourth quarter last year, we believe the predominance of the sales decline so far this year is represented by the pandemic related store closures across all of our operating regions.
Turning back to the first quarter, total consolidated global sales declined 34% to $1.02 billion from $1.55 billion in the prior-year period. The overall sales decline was attributed to the reported comp store sales decline of 17%, approximately 13% from the impact of COVID-19 related fully closed stores and the remaining almost four percentage points attributable to permanently closed stores and foreign exchange headwinds.
As a reminder, these permanent store closures are a result of our ongoing efforts to either dedensify certain geographies or exit unprofitable businesses. We continue to see strong sales and profit transfer rates from the dedensification strategy and are on track for the completion of the Nordics region wind down by the end of July.
In terms of category performance, hardware and accessories declined 21.8% for Q1, the vast majority of which was attributable to full store closures. Despite the decline in the overall category, Nintendo Switch continues to perform very well with sales in the quarter showing a material increase compared to the first quarter last year. Software, particularly catalog and pre-owned as well as our collectibles tend to be Market Basket builders in-store. And as such, both of the software and collectibles categories each declined approximately 43% for the quarter, reflecting the customer's inability to access our storefronts.
There were only a few new software titles that launched in the first quarter, including Animal Crossing, Final Fantasy VII and Doom Maternal, all of which far exceeded their sales plans. From a product margin standpoint, gross margin declined due to product mix with hardware sales representing approximately 50% of sales, a much larger penetration level as compared to 42% last year. As a result, our overall global gross margins were 27.7% or a 270 basis point contraction from the more software led 30.4% in the fiscal first quarter last year.
Now turning to our expenses and expense management objectives. After adjusting for roughly $5.3 million in transformation, severance and other charges associated with our GameStop reboot profit improvement initiative, our SG&A expenses were $381.2 million, reflecting a decline of approximately $72.5 million or roughly 16% versus the first quarter last year. Importantly, these results do not adjust for just over $21 million of one-time investments we made in the quarter related to COVID-19.
The first of which was approximately $18.5 million of incremental wages associated with our decision to pay an additional two weeks of pay or if eligible, two additional weeks of paid time-off to our hourly associates. Secondly, we invested just over $3 million in safety and sanitary related products and equipment in the first quarter to ensure the safety of our associates and customers.
We do anticipate some of the SG&A reductions to come back in future quarters as we return to more normalized operations of our stores and our distribution centers. However, a significant portion of the reduction is also directly related to our ongoing efforts to aggressively rationalize the overall cost structure of the business. As a result of the worldwide impact on our store operations, the COVID-19 pandemic, we realized an operating loss of $108 million compared to operating income of $17.5 million in the prior-year first quarter.
Adjusted operating loss, excluding the transformation, severance and other charges was $98.8 million compared to the operating income of $17.5 million in the prior-year first quarter. Importantly, again these results do not adjust for the over $21 million of one-time investments we made in the quarter that I mentioned a minute ago.
Our effective tax rate as reported for the first quarter was negative 43.9% and was impacted by certain discrete tax items primarily related to a $53 million valuation allowance on our deferred tax assets and the mix of earnings across the jurisdictions in which we operate. Excluding the impact of the $53 million non-cash tax adjustment in the quarter, our adjusted effective tax rate for the quarter was 1.5%.
On a reported basis, our net loss was $165.7 million which includes the $53 million non-cash charge or a loss of $2.57 per diluted share compared to net income of $6.8 million or earnings per diluted share of $0.07 in the prior-year first quarter.
Adjusted net loss excluding the tax charge transformation, severance and other charges associated with GameStop reboot was $103.9 million or a loss of $1 61 per diluted share, compared to adjusted net income of $7.5 million or $0.07 per diluted share. Again, this net loss is not adjusted for the $21 million in incremental COVID-19 related costs mentioned before.
During the first quarter, we continue to focus on optimizing our global store fleet and strategically dedensifying certain markets. For the quarter we closed a net total of 181 stores. As we told you in March, we expect our strategic market optimization efforts to result in a similar number of store closures in 2020 as compared to 2019, or roughly 320 stores. However, given the positive sales and profit transfer rates we continue to see, we’re revising that estimate upwards by roughly 100 additional closures.
Now turning to the balance sheet, at the end of the fiscal first quarter, we had total cash of $570.3 million including $135 million drawn on the revolver. Subsequently, given the relatively stronger performance of the business, we paid down $35 million to revolver and had $100 million outstanding as of June 3.
Our accounts payable at the end of the quarter were $212 million, down from $458.4 million at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2019 reflecting a 54% reduction, which is directly related to our ability to leverage a flexible supply chain and reduced purchase orders around the world at the very onset of the viral pandemic, thus not creating a liability drag on the business or on cash flows.
We ended the first quarter with total inventory of $654.7 million compared to $1.15 billion in the prior-year period, a reduction of 43%. As we have said, effective and efficient inventory management, including improved inventory turns continues to be a significant area of focus for us and is a key driver of the further improvement in working capital efficacy.
We're very pleased with the continued progress we're making with regards to working capital, and specifically the improvement on the efficiency of the cash conversion cycle on our inventory, which is reflected in both the 43% and 54% decline in inventory and accounts payable respectively all while meaning maintaining a strong cash position of over $570 million in total cash and equivalents.
This disciplined management of inventory working capital continues to manifest itself in the balance sheet and is key to providing us the necessary liquidity and financial flexibility to manage the current environment as well as support the upcoming inventory investments in new software titles and new generation of consoles and the associated accessories upcoming in the third and fourth quarter. Due to the ongoing potential impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, as is consistent across the retail industry, we continue to suspend our forward guidance.
However, we do believe that our efforts to maintain the strength of our balance sheet will continue for the long-term. As an indication of that, we expect our total cash and equivalents at the end of the second fiscal quarter, to be in the range of $575 million to $625 million reflecting roughly flat to positive cash flow from operations. As of May 2, the end of the fiscal quarter we had $417.2 million of our outstanding notes on the balance sheet.
In keeping with our objectives to maintain a strong and healthy balance sheet last week on June 4th, we announced the commencement of an exchange offer to certain holders of the remaining balance of the $414.6 million of our 6.75% senior notes, which are due in 2021. This offering is intended to provide us with even further financial flexibility by replacing and extending the maturity of the existing notes that are validly tendered as we continue to focus on advancing our long-term strategy and objectives.
Further to our goals of maintaining a strong balance sheet on June 5, we completed the sale of our corporate jet and continue to work to efficiently monetize certain other real property assets of the business. In the first quarter, we had $6.6 million of capital expenditures. It's important to note that we have lowered capital spending to focus on mandatory maintenance or near-term high value strategic projects and now expect to invest approximately $43 million in CapEx for the year, a significant reduction from the roughly $80 million spent in 2019.
As I mentioned before, we have generally suspended guidance as a result of the COVID-19 impact on our business. However, it's important to note that in addition to the second quarter cash expectations I shared earlier, we do believe that three things one, our performance during the peak of the pandemic, two our current trajectory, and three our expectations for the back half of the year console launch will all contribute to generate positive adjusted EBITDA for the fiscal year. We remain confident that the progress against our GameStop reboot objectives is providing the key support for us to navigate this trying and unusual time.
We remain intensely focused on continuing to execute actions to further strengthen our overall financial architecture, including all key profit and expense levers that will result in an organization that is efficient, streamlined, and poised to capitalize on a significant profit flow through improvement as we experienced expected robust sales growth in late 2020 led by both the expected new software title slate and the Generation 9 console launch. I will now turn the call over to the operator and we'll take any questions that you may have.
At this time, we will be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] And our first question is from Steph Wissink from Jefferies. Please proceed with your question.
Thank you. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I have two quick housekeeping questions Jim for you and then George a bigger picture question, if I could. The first just can you remind us what percentages of your leases are up for renewal over the next 12 months? And then you mentioned transfer rates in the script, I’m wondering if you can just give us a quick statistic update on what you're seeing in foreclosures and the transfer value?
Yes, hi, Steph. The average lease primarily here in the U.S. remains around two years. So that would obviously say that in 12-month period, we're going to turn over about half the fleet from a legal perspective. And in general, that's kind of how it tracks. On the second one, the transfer rate is it's actually not something that we've published publicly. But sufficed to say that we're actually seeing a little bit even stronger rates than we had, I think really pragmatically planned early on. And so that's why we've accelerated some of the closures numbers by about 100 in terms of our expectations, so we're seeing a little bit better than that, than where our original expectations were.
Okay, that's helpful. My question, George for you is, you said something in the script that really struck me, which is the idea of kind of this renewed interest in gaming that was maybe inspired by the pandemic or a result of the pandemic. So I'm curious if you can talk a little bit about what you're seeing in your customer database. Were these customers that were once gamers and have returned to become gamers, are you finding that this is a new population of gamers? And how does that play into the negotiations you're having right now with the OEMs regarding your revenue sharing partnerships?
Yes, Steph thanks for the question. I mean, we saw this early on when the store closures began. So really the last couple of weeks of March kind of going into April, and it really showed up in the form of hardware sales predominantly. I think we mentioned that any game that was launched in this timeframe really did better than expected. And that's on large scale basis like Animal Crossing. And then certainly smaller games perform much better as well. So we saw a lot of new interest. And we saw, obviously a lot of hardware purchasing late in the console cycle.
And we know that our core customer has long since bought second devices and is looking ahead toward the next generation consoles in November. So we're certain that we saw new gamers come in, we don't have any reason to believe that it is a return to gaming, we think that it's net new gaming predominantly. And that shows up for us in terms of loyalty as net new e-mail addresses and net interest.
So it's truly beneficial to us. I mean, anytime that the overall pie gets bigger, we benefit from that, given our market share. So yes by all means, is something that we can parlay into conversations with our partners as we look down the road. And you know certainly our hope would be that we can maintain close contact, build that social interaction with these new customers, get them deeper and deeper into gaming and have them start looking forward to new consoles as well.
So yes, no doubt. I mean hardware was a pretty scarce commodity and very, very end of cycle. And then of course the switch, which is still, very, very viable did amazingly well. And as we said, we think we're the largest sellers in the world of that device. And we get them in, we sell them out in 24 hours. So still big demand in which we think is largely attributable to new gamers.
And our next question is from Ray Stochel from Consumer Edge Research, please proceed with your question.
Great, thanks for taking my question. On e-commerce, the growth that you've seen, I'm sure a lot of that is due to just your store closures and all the success that you've had with omnichannel, but can you give us an update as far as are you going to be able to hit that billion dollar target much earlier than expected as a result? And then what changes you're making to your e-commerce platform itself to drive results or fulfilled demands that you're seeing incremental to your expectations?
Yes, I mean first of all, Ray thanks, it obviously is going to help us, it's a step in the right direction is pretty rapid fire growth that we experienced. So again, those peak periods up over 1500% and over 500 for the quarter. By all means, we've made some process improvements. I think it all begins with the hiring of Chief Digital Officer. So we put a stake in the ground on this. It's obviously one of our four growth pillars is frictionless digital ecosystem. We've been going after this one pretty hard. We've been improving the fulfillment process, it's changed a number of things. I mean, from the amount of freight that flows through to stores versus how much has held back in distribution centers. It's had a ripple effect on our supply chain strategy.
We were a seven-day a week operation now in our DCs as it applies to e-commerce. So it's been great growth. Of course you're right. I mean, a lot of it really began with the closure of stores. But there's no question that it has been an unnatural, and to a certain degree I mean unfortunate inflection point, but it sure drove our business in the right direction in a hurry.
I’d add a color point to that, because it's important, it is not just a function of how the e-commerce channel operates by itself relative to the brick-and-mortar locations. But more importantly, how the omnichannel, the entirety of the omnichannel business works collectively. And importantly, what we saw is with the growth in e-commerce, a lot of that was driven by buy online, pick up in-store and ship-from-store. But the vast majority of those orders are picked up in the same day or the next day. And that's important because that gives us the true omnichannel efficiency and so we'll continue to balance both of those and but as we continue to open stores, we see some continued health in e-commerce driven ordering.
Yes, and I’d build-off of what Jim said, we couldn't have done it without this e-commerce capability. I mean our ability to contact with curbside delivery was built directly off of our buy online pick up in-store capability. As I mentioned, we generally would flow through more of our freight to the stores and hold it there. So early on ship from store was a big fulfillment channel for us in terms of driving omnichannel. So it really was the fungibility of all these assets, leveraging off of one another.
Got it, thank you, and then a follow-up on pre-owned inventory. So you guys have inventory down substantially year-over-year and you've seen strong demand for some of the hardware pre-owned that you talked about. Is there any way to think about where your sort of total customer rewards points are trending? So are you seeing a situation where rewards points are falling as people keep buying new things with those rewards points. And then so you're sort of going to be heading into holiday with a lack of sort of money in the system to buy other products, or is that the wrong way to think about it, you’re doing well, as far as the trade in perspective as well as demand perspective?
Yes, hi this is Jim. First of all, from an inventory perspective, I think I'll comment more globally about our pre-owned inventory. This has been an area that Chris Homeister, our Chief Merchant and myself will work out with our teams extensively, not just on new inventory management, but the pre-owned as well in creating efficiencies and how we manage that in terms of overall turn and cash conversion cycle.
So that's one, two certainly with respect to the way that you discuss the points in the loyalty program and engagement with our products, that isn't the right way to think about it. In fact, what we in particular, George mentioned the new entrants what we saw in this last several couple of months here with the surge is really these are, these tend to be new entrants into it, at least from what we can see in terms of the file. So we think that's important. And again, the pre-owned product in the buy-sell-trade capability gave us the opportunity that we think not a lot of people have, which is be able to supplement when the new -- when there is scarce, scarcity for new hardware, we were actually able to lean in on our pre-owned product that we have in the system.
Got it, thanks again.
And our next question is from Curtis Nagle from Bank of America. Please proceed with your question.
Good afternoon. Thanks for taking the question. First one, just a clarification on the May down 4% comp. And is that number excluding closures and if that's the case, what's the all-in number and could you comment on any category performance within that comp?
Yes, no we're not kind of, we're not providing any more information on May, we just want to provide some direction on how May was performing relative to the months that we also disclosed, which is how we make, we wanted to make sure that we were giving some information and some insight into how the business was trending pre during and as we're continuing to make the evolution out of the peak of the pandemic. I mean obviously, we're still in the middle of this process. We're opening stores, and we wanted to give some indication of that and is that when you say it’s adjusted, yes, we do not include stores that are closed for longer than two weeks all-in contiguous basis.
Got it, understood. And then as a follow-up, just wanted to dig a little bit more into the comment about hitting positive EBITDA for the year. I know you guys are obviously very positive in terms of coming cycle, but I don't know just kind of looking back at the history, typically at least from what I can see in quarters where your console launches, those aren't great in terms of EBITDA just given the sales mix into hardware and maybe less sales for some of the higher margin products. So, are you expecting an increase in EBITDA in 4Q and how should we think about, are you expecting positive free cash flow for the year given that comment?
Yes, I think I'll comment specifically and George you might have some color as well. But the way to think about it is, we have been working in the year that this management team has been together here, the core of our activities especially around optimizing the core of the business, I’ve been focused on really re-architecting the financial architecture of this business and so that we're actually in a much better place to take advantage of a console launch. So if you're looking at history, I don't think you should look at that flow through because the ability to have lower expenses, the ability to have a much tighter inventory management, cash conversion cycle, all those things yield better results all the way through in terms of the flow through of those sales growth.
And we think that that's actually incredibly important difference of where GameStop sits today versus in prior long cycles. George?
Yes, look Curtis, I'd add, I think when you're a specialty retailer, you feel the full impact of the downside of the cycle as we felt over the last year or so. You also get the benefit of the upside. It is not our intent to sell gaming consoles by themselves. That's where we're different. That's where we're, we play a very important role to the vendor community, we attach at a different level. So we certainly would expect to attach games, we certainly would expect to attach accessories and we certainly would expect to attach collectibles at a higher margin rate as part of this. So it's going to be a traffic event for both online and for our stores. No question about it, we will parlay out the traffic.
Thanks very much.
And our next question is from Seth Sigman from Credit Suisse. Please proceed with your question.
Hey guys, thanks for taking the question. I did want to follow-up on that May trends. So the down 4% comps that compares to down 14.4% in April, I think I heard but presumably very different store numbers included in each of those periods just given the store closing dynamics. So can you just help us a little bit here? What percent of your store base is captured in that comp base for May versus April?
Yes, I mean here's the way to think about it. Again, very, very dynamic week-to-week. So, in the U.S. market as an example, we really started to, store started to open up for some form of limited access. When we say limited access, what we mean is, is safe and secure or safe and sanitary access for a limited amount of customers to maintain proper social distancing.
And so it really is a dynamic number. I can't give you any one binary point, because and it’s continuing to evolve today. And we still have roughly a little over 500 stores that are opening as we speak. So it's really difficult for me to answer that question in a binary form. Yes, it really is three dimensional, you have open versus closed, you have delivery at door versus limited access. And you have open for one week versus open for four weeks, all rolling across the country and across the world. So as mentioned in the script, 90% open across the world right now that includes virtually the entirety of Europe.
So for all practical purposes, save five stores. I think it is in France around the large malls in the Paris suburbs, a few in Italy in the Milan area. Europe is open. Australia, New Zealand is 100% open. And that leaves the majority in the U.S. and Canada that we're working towards, but it's happening very, very quickly. But as Jim said, it's just too rolling in nature to really answer that one directly.
Yes, okay. This is just a clarification, then I have a real follow-up. But just to help us modeling here, since the negative four doesn't really flow through the model. I know it's really illustrated right. But it's revenue that flows to the model. So can you sort of give us a sense of what the revenue growth in the May time period would look like quarter-to-date, so that we can use that in the model?
I don't have it in front of me. So I don't think we're prepared to talk about that today.
Okay, okay. So my real follow-up was around the comments around positive EBITDA for the year. Can you just help us with that a little bit more, I want to confirm is that all expected to come in the fourth quarter? And if so, it does imply a pretty significant year-over-year increase. It doesn't seem like hardware alone gets you there. So can you kind of give us a sense of some of the other assumptions embedded there? And what gives you confidence? Thank you.
Yes, again we're not giving any breakout of a quarterly contribution to that. So that's just meant to give some indication as to how we view the entirety of the year working together. A couple of key things, I'd share on this is in the third quarter, there are a number of key software titles, many of which were postponed from last year into this year. And some of those were originally slated for earlier in the year that there were then postponed again, due to the pandemic from the beginning of the year to the back half.
And so there's a whole series of moving parts here that around new software launches. And then certainly the expected console launches, which we expect to see it hit the marketplace in the fourth quarter. But now remember, as George indicated in some of the earlier comments, that also entails a significant degree of attachment to those consoles, whether that's warranty levels, whether it's excuse me, controllers, whether it's collectibles, whatever it might be, I mean there's a whole series of things that come along with, what is now seven years of technological development by the OEMs. And that brings further technology and the accessories as well.
Got it, thanks. Best of luck.
And our next question is from Carla Casella from JPMorgan, please proceed with your question.
Hi, my question is if you could talk to us about the borrowing base and the seasonality of that how you expect it to trend through the year. And I'm not sure if you gave the liquidity number as of the quarter, how much was available under the revolver?
So I don't remember saying that, specifically. But the way the borrowing base works, Carla is that it's obviously supported by the inventory. It's an asset backed lending revolver, the primary security factors the inventory and AR, and so as a function of that, it follows the high seasonality of our fourth quarter.
And so the peak availability in that revolver is $430 million, but that really only is available during the couple of months, really November, December timeframe, if you think about it that way generally speaking. And so in essence, anywhere between $150 million and $250 million availability for the rest of the year again depending on the inventory levels.
And so did you give that availability was as of 1Q and I was just, I understand the seasonality, but I was wondering if this year with the COVID disruption expect any of that to be different, you've reduced your inventory pretty considerably.
Yes, and again I just don’t have that number off top of my head, but it's in the Q. And certainly available there and sorry about that, Carla, but I just don't have it off top of my head. But suffice it to say, yes, we've reduced our inventory levels, but we do have availability. And as we mentioned for example, we paid down about actually down to about 100, we really borrowed about $150 million in the revolver, and we paid down $50 million of that. So we're holding about $100 million as of about a week or two ago.
Okay, that's great. And then I had one question on your business trends and if it will trend any different this year because of the launches, so if we look at margins on pre-owned versus software versus hardware, we've seen them historically. It's been a long time since there's been a new hardware launch, how do you expect margins to trend your gross margins on those categories as we're going into the launch?
Yes, so again, I think you have to think about so as we saw for example, last couple of months, you saw a hardware shift, and a lot of that was new hardware. And so that was the primary driver between for example, the 270 basis points of year-over-year change in the margin was really due to the mix shift into the hardware. And if you're looking about it, for example those are new entrants. It's important because then there are second, third, fourth order transactions that come from those new entrants that we enjoy here with respect to especially customers that come into our loyalty program. And so you'll see a change in that margin rate of that market basket at later transactions, but suffice it to say if you think about some of the key titles, major titles that I talked about a minute ago, will have some velocity in the third quarter at least expected launches, that will tend to P mix into product mix into software, new software.
And those rates are obviously going to be better than hardware. Hardware, new products are going to be from a rate perspective lower than our pre-owned hardware and software and pre-owned continues to be an important part of the business. Importantly, as I mentioned in my comments, pre-owned software and collectibles are two categories that are higher margin categories. And it's important because when the stores are closed and customers don't come in, generally their attachments into a market basket. And so the associates in the stores are building that market basket with customers as they're coming in. And you're and also new software that's in the catalog. And so when we don't have customers able to walk into stores, that does change the margin profile of the transaction. But when they come back into the stores, then we also see it shift back the other way.
Yes, I think Jim mentioned in his script, part of the area that we do not see sales in during COVID, especially when we're in a delivery at door mode is catalog sales. So most of the sales tend to be dominated in this particular case by hardware and new release software as stores open up customers have access to the store, we would expect to see a different depth of shopping experience getting back in the catalog software sales. Of course, there was no access to collectibles other than via the web. So unless something was a new release of Funko Pop or something like that, it's not going to have much visibility. And we would expect the reemergence of our pre-owned business going into the fall season as well.
We've been closed. It's just not been from a hygiene standpoint, something that we wanted to do exchanging games and exchanging software via curbside, now that stores are open. And now we have a UV cleaning process or putting off our hardware through as we return it to our refurb operation center, we do expect to see trading as a down payment toward new gaming consoles and new games.
Okay, great. That's great. Thank you so much. Very helpful.
Thank you, Carla.
And our next question is from William Reuter from Bank of America, please proceed with your question.
Good afternoon. In terms of the timing of when payables are due, I would expect it given that you have a handful of software launches, which are expected to probably do fairly well and then you've got the console which I imagine you sell out of those extremely quickly. Will the turns be such that the working capital build for inventory should be less than we've seen maybe in historical periods around the holidays?
So the right way to think about yes, the right way to think about it is a perspective that when you're turning, given our payment terms, which I'm not going to comment on here in terms of what our agreements are with our vendors, but suffice it to say that that, yes, if you're thinking about selling a product inside of once or twice inside of those payment terms, yes, that's the right way to think about it.
Okay, and then, I'm not sure if you could provide an aggregate what the shift in terms of the new software releases, which were shifted from 1Q into 2Q would be, is there any guidance you can help us with there?
No, we're really not providing any further guidance. Again, importantly, there's just there's too -- there still remains too much uncertainty in the marketplace right now.
Okay, thank you very much. That's all for me.
Thank you, William.
And our final question is from Bryan Hunt from Wells Fargo. Please proceed with your question.
Good afternoon, George and Jim. My first question is I was wondering if you could touch on when the plane -- your corporate jet was sold, what were the proceeds? And then shifting gears, looking at asset base, what are the assets may be for sale and what type of proceeds are you expecting to yield from asset sales during the year?
Yes, this is Jim. Hey, Bryan, how are you? It's been a long time.
It's been a while.
It's been a while, hey on the jet we just sold last week. We were holding it for sale on as an asset held for sale, and so that was roughly around just short of $9 million in terms of the asset. And then we now have some real estate assets that we've had out in the marketplace here over last several weeks and I'll just break it down one in Canada, one in Australia and three buildings here in the U.S.
And are those all your distribution centers?
They are distribution centers and offices as well in all three locations Canada, Australia and the U.S. we co-locate offices with the distribution centers.
Okay, are those assets you plan on continuing to use like, are you looking to do sale leasebacks or completely exit the facility?
We fully expect to utilize those assets just we own them, they're sitting on the balance sheet as assets. And we feel that as a retailer and certainly one that's making this transition that we are for some of the important growth vehicles we have on the plate that we don't need to be in the business of owning real estate, but we can deploy that capital in much more efficient way.
Very good. So you don't have those listed as assets for sale on the 10-Q?
Not that is -- yes, because the intention is to do a sale leaseback. And so therefore requirement doesn't provide for that.
Very good, I appreciate Jim and look forward to talk to you more. Best of luck.
Thank you. We have reached the end of the question-and-answer session. I'll now turn the conference over to George for any closing remarks.
Yes, in closing I'd like to thank our entire team across the company. I'm very proud of the resilience of our store team, distribution team and refurbishment teams that they've shown during this unprecedented time, I’m honored to have a group of store associates and total team that are so passionate about gaming and serving our customers, this will serve as well in the rapidly changing environment. Thank you, thanks to all of you for your interest in the stock.
This concludes today’s conference. And you may disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation.