Blue Tomato was hit hard by coronavirus-related store closures in Europe in the 10-week period ended Jan. 9, according to its U.S.-based parent company, Zumiez. However, the group’s Australian action sports retail chain, Fast Times, performed “extremely well.” In the end, the group’s international sales were off by 6.7 percent in dollars and by 14.2 percent in local currencies during the period. The group’s sales in North America inched up by 0.2 percent, driven by a small increase at U.S. stores, while Canada was down. In terms of product categories, hardgoods performed best, followed by accessories. Shoes was the worst category, followed by women’s and men’s clothing. Overall, Zumiez’ revenues declined by 0.7 percent but rose by 1.7 percent on a comparable store basis. 

At the ICR Conference, Zumiez told investors that Q4 was “the most difficult quarter we have ever had.” For Blue Tomato, which is a strong player for products like snowboards, the holiday shopping season coincided with stay-at-home orders and the closure of physical stores and winter sports resorts. However, Zumiez is optimistic that its European and Australian operations are on a path to profitability, partly because about half of their sales are made via e-commerce.

Zumiez is going to focus on building scale in the near term, opening stores in diverse markets for brand discovery. It will take advantage of opportunities being presented by the current real estate environment, which the management compared with the situation after the Great Recession in the U.S.