Computer entertainment specialist Game reported a like-for-like sales slump of 17.5% in the UK and Ireland after disappointing Christmas trading.

In the five weeks to January 9, total UK and Ireland sales plummeted 18%, group sales fell 12.1% and group like-for-likes were down 13.8%. International like-for-likes dipped 5.9% on a constant currency basis.

Game chairman Peter Lewis said: “The negative trends in the PC and video games market continued over the key Christmas selling period despite strong software releases.”

But Lewis was keen to note that since Christmas “we have seen significant improvement”.

For the 49 weeks to January 9, total sales for the UK and Ireland slumped 15.1% and like-for-likes were down 16.8%.

Game revised down group profit expectations for the year to January 31 to between £87m and £93m, compared with City estimates of about £95m. Lewis said in the year 2010/11 revenues are likely to decline year on year.

KBC Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson noted that Game performs best in times of tight product supply and following new hardware launches, and said a new hand-held Nintendo controller and an add-on for the Xbox 360 is mooted for 2010.

Singer analyst Mark Photiades remained cautious on Game’s medium-term outlook as a result of the threats from increased competition, pricing pressures and digital distribution.