A few weeks ago, short interest in GameStop (GME) was around 140%. Float is around 47 million, so total tradeable shares would have been about 113 million.
According to reporting I have seen, it has now decreased dramatically. For example, this source says it is now 53%:
If this is correct and it was all accomplished by purchasing stocks and returning them to the lenders, I believe the number of tradeable shares would have decreased to 73 million, a decrease of 40 million shares.
Did the number of tradeable Gamestop shares decrease by 40 million shares over the last 1-2 weeks? If not, how did short sellers most likely unwind their positions?
I have heard some speculation as to why this decrease didn't happen, but they don't seem credible to me.
The S3 number is calculated as short/(float + short), so my numbers above are simply wrong. However, I have seen in many other news sources that the short percent has decreased dramatically, which wouldn't be true if the S3 report is correct. 140% short interest translates to 58% by this measure, so a decrease to 53% is not that significant.
I have heard that they can use options to cover their short positions. But to me (I don't know a lot about trading), it seems like these options would leave another seller short a share, so float wouldn't decrease.