updated 1/7/2004 11:18:05 AM ET 2004-01-07T16:18:05

Circuit City Stores Inc., the nation's No. 2 electronics retailer, said Wednesday its December sales fell 1 percent.

The Richmond-based chain's overall sales for the month fell to $1.71 billion, down from $1.74 billion in December 2002. Same-store sales-- which measures sales at stores open at least a year -- fell 2 percent.

"Our December sales performance varied significantly by category," said W. Alan McCollough, Circuit City's chief executive.

Circuit City saw strong growth in sales of digital and plasma televisions, digital satellite systems, digital audio products and satellite radio. It also reported increased sales from orders placed on the Internet.

However, weak sales in other categories -- particularly home audio and video-game hardware and software -- more than offset the sales in new-technology products, Circuit City said.

The company also said it expects to open 65 to 70 superstores in the fiscal year ending Feb. 28, 2005, with slightly more than half of the openings as relocations of existing stores.

The remaining stores will enter new trade areas in existing markets or new smaller markets, Circuit City said.

The company said the superstore openings will be based on the availability of "superior" real estate that meet its site requirements.

Circuit City is second to Best Buy Co. among the consumer electronics retail chains

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