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MINNEAPOLIS-Rising sales mean the US consumer is coming back, and expansion is needed in Europe, even as Canada and China lag, Best Buy Co. executives said at the company’s third quarter conference call.

The company will open its first big box stores in the United Kingdom next year, part of an expansion that includes 17 Wireless World format stores which are showing “encouraging” results, the company said.

“I have every confidence the UK will be absolutely delighted,” said Bob Willett, CEO of Best Buy International.

Total sales for the quarter were $12 billion, up 5% from the third quarter of 2009. Net earnings were $227 million, vs. $52 million for the prior-year period. Overall comparable store sales rose 1.7%, with domestic sales improving each month, finishing with an 8.4% increase in fiscal of November due to a low-double digit gain over the Thanksgiving weekend. Europe, however, saw a 3% comp decline, with Canada reporting a high single-digit comp drop.

“The overall economy up north [in Canada] very much follows the U.S.,” Willett said. “The economy will be a year behind the U.S.”

China, however, may become a bright spot in time.

“We’re seeing good growth there. We’re starting to see Shanghai coming back,” Willett said. “We have the roots in place. We’re going to go carefully, but our plan is in place.”

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