Friday, February 29, 2008

More and more it feels like a reset to 2002-3 levels in my core comic business. It's all very anecdotal, but I feel like I'm getting more and more customers cutting back or quitting titles with the comment, "I can't afford them...."

Also have lost more than usual number of regulars to job changes or moving out of town. When you have a CFO who is so specialized that there is really only one job in Bend that fits his criteria, he has to go elsewhere.

One of my long-term regulars has been in Portland for the last year because it was the only place that could pay him for his skills. Another announced yesterday that he's going to Joseph, Oregon for a year.

I don't expect other parts of my store to revert quite so much. The foot traffic is completely different now, because I'm surrounded for blocks by other retail. Ten years ago, I had very little foot traffic. I was in the retail hinterlands.

Meanwhile, two new product lines, new books and board games, are adding 15% to my overall numbers. Three other lines have lost major competitors, sports cards and card games and anime/manga, so even with probable overall declines in the industries (based on what I'm hearing elsewhere) I'm still ahead.

Still, it is a time to be careful. Going home in the evenings, there still seems to be a fair number of people walking around. But when I look in the restaurants I see them all packed into the bars, while the tables sit empty. That can't be good.

Meanwhile, assuming I have an 'average' day, we should be about 20% over last month, and about 10% below last year in the same month. Linda's store will probably be up around 6% over last year. So January wasn't followed by a steeper decline in February, which is a bit of a relief.

Over last 3 years, January has turned into my worst month. Which didn't used to be true --- it used to be there was residual Christmas spirit floating around. February is when I used to really get nailed. But that seems to have flip flopped.

March is usually pretty good, because of spring breaks. We'll see.

So moderate, but fairly slow declines. Predictable, and related to the job market.

I can live with that.

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