Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Ready when you are, C.B.!"

Customers have been asking if I'm having a prosperous Christmas. Strange as it sounds, I still don't know. As of yesterday, there was just a hair's breadth of difference between this year, last year, and the year before. Thing is, last year was a full 4000.00 better than the year before at the end. So, it all hangs in the balance, still.

As hard as this is for me, I can't imagine what it must be like for the manager of a local Gap store, or a Fred Meyer store, for instance. Totally at mercy of the whims of the consumer, foggy airports, snowy passes, random terrorist attacks, major news of any type, negative press, etc.

From The New Yorker Magazine, December 24, 2007 edition:

"The Christmas shopping season can account for as much as forty per cent of a retail store’s annual revenue and as much as three-quarters of its annual profit."

I've kind of always thought these stats were an urban myth. I mean, unless you're selling Christmas Tree lights or something equally holiday oriented, it seems hard to imagine.

Even at our Best Christmas levels, we only do maybe 35% better than our worst month of the year, and profit wise, it probably only accounts for, I don't know, something like 12 to 18%. But it is an extremely important month for us in that we need to pay off as many debts as possible before the desert months of Jan. to June, where the rubber band stretches and stretches and you're waiting for summer relief.

For us, the week after Christmas is almost as important as the week before. While we no longer really cater to the kid crowd, we certainly cater to the tourists and families who aren't sprung loose until the kids get out of school. I can't remember if the kids got out of school so late last year, but I can remember when they used to get out a week early. Now, the extra week will fall on New Year's. Not exactly a trade I would make on purpose.

Still, people come into our store that week. So, when I say it all comes down to ten days, the ten days haven't happened.

The chain stores have trained everyone to wait for the last moment. The big sale is just around the corner. 20 years ago, there was pretty steady business from Thanksgiving Week on. Now, there is a full week to ten days lull when everyone takes a breather.

I'm hoping to do somewhere between 2005 and 2006 in sales. My usual, right in the middle muddle through fall back position...

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