Here's the lesson for retailers in early 2017: If you carried and sold the Nintendo Switch, it helped your bottom line.
Best Buy had a way better first three months of the year than anyone seemed to expect, it announced Tuesday morning. And some of the best-selling products during that first quarter came in video games.
The CEO of Best Buy, Hubert Joly, specifically mentioned a "strong performance in gaming" as one of the reasons the retailer had better comparable sales this year than last.
Joly doesn't name-drop Nintendo, but you could feel safe betting all your Mario Party coins that the insanely popular Switch (which came out in early March) had something to do with that.
Nintendo sold an estimated 2.74 million Switch consoles (and even more copies of the new Zelda, interestingly) worldwide in its first month on the shelves, leading to the company's highest share price since 2010, The Guardian reported.
Best Buy has leaned hard on the Switch. It quickly sold out of preorders, and after the console's release the company would advertise when more shipments were coming in. Target got a swift sales kick from the Switch too, with execs over there earlier this week citing it as one of the reasons for a not-as-bad-as-expected first quarter.
Best Buy also has a paid Gamers Club where people can get access to special discounts on video game items.
Strong Switch sales could continue. Nintendo has been staggering some of the big-name titles. The company held back a Mario Kart until April. Titles like the online shooter Splatoon and a new entry in the Super Mario series are slated to come out, with Call of Dutyrumored – all titles that could compel someone to buy a Switch.
Best Buy's online sales went up, tablet sales were meh
Of course Best Buy sells more than Nintendo Switches.
Joly said the company had better sales in the mobile phone space than it had anticipated. Computing and the "connected home" spaces also did well. High margins in appliances and home theater helped too. (The margin is the difference between how much Best Buy buys an item for, and the price it sells it to the customer for.)
And U.S. online sales shot way up, jumping 22.5 percent compared to last year. Best Buy said that was mainly because more people visited BestBuy.com, and a higher percentage of visitors bought something.
Still, despite that public narrative of "Sales are all going to the web," online revenue only made up 12.9 percent of all Best Buy's domestic sales. Meaning non-online sales are still a huge driver for the retailer.
What hurt Best Buy?
Margins in the gaming and mobile industry aren't great, the retailer said. And tablet sales were also down during this first quarter.
But overall, comparable sales at Best Buy went up 1.6 percent compared to last year (even though the retailer has 12 fewer large stores, and 40 fewer mobile locations after closing them in 2016). Bloomberg said analysts had actually expected those comparable sales to go down.