By Paul Hayes

MELBOURNE, VIC: The new format Dick Smith stores have provided Woolworths with a lone highlight in an otherwise disappointing quarter for consumer electronics sales.

In its FY2010 third quarter sales results, released this morning, Woolworths announced a marked drop in consumer electronics sales for the third quarter, despite the company recording strong overall sales figures.

The retailer revealed its total consumer electronics sales for the 13 weeks to 4 April had declined 2.4 per cent, a result which flew in the face of its overall sales, which jumped 4.7 per cent for a total of $12.9 billion.

The lone bright spot for the retailer’s consumer electronics arm was the performance of the new format Dick Smith stores, which has moved away from its traditional component base and into consumer appliances over the last five years.

Woolworths reported that the third quarter sales for the Australian Dick Smith stores, excluding Tandy and Powerhouse, grew by 2.5 per cent, proving people are warming to the new direction of the stores.

“Comparable sales for the 121 new format Dick Smith stores were well in excess of the network,” said Woolworths.

“This growth reflects the strong consumer acceptance of the Dick Smith offer as more stores are refurbished in the new format.”

Woolworth’s negative overall electronics numbers are especially disheartening when compared to the same time last year, when sales increased by 16 per cent.

The company attributed this year’s drop compared to last year’s spike to stimulus spending.

“Consumer electronics Australia sales were challenging in the third quarter as we cycled the government stimulus payments last year and experienced tighter consumer spending,” said Woolworths.