Friday, March 7, 2008

There is no possible way I'm even going to come close to last year's March sales. I think that was probably my highwater mark; very nearly Summer month sales levels, and less than 10% below Christmas.

Not completely sure why, except that it was the last month I indulged in purposeful 'over' spending; that is, spending 4 or 5k worth more on product without trying to do more than just pay for it. The extra product becomes the profit.

I'm now the beneficiary of all those 'extra' books and games and toys and such that I bought, because here we've hit a recession and my sales are still sufficient enough to pay all the bill and keep the inventory up.

But gross sales are going to be way down. To give you an idea, I could be as much as 15% higher than this January, and still be more than 25% down from last March. Since I've always insisted on comparing the same month year to year as the most accurate appraisal of how I'm doing, that will look pretty bad.

Still, in this case, since so much has changed, I think I'm going to need to compare March more with Jan., Feb, and the upcoming April and May of this year to learn anything useful.

It proves once again that once I've hit your break-even level, (that is gross sales and margins sufficient to pay overhead and product), what counts more than sales is how much I spend.

It also shows that I picked the exact highwater mark to quit spending the extra. I thought that the difference would show up in profits; instead, it's showing up in my not going backward in profits. Not as much fun, but satisfying in it's own way. I'm especially pleased that I'm still able to replace absolutely everything I sell, get all the new good stuff the store needs, still pay the bills in a timely manner. I'm managing to still make my double mortgage payments -- so there is profit in that.

On the other hand, I no longer believe that my store is recession proof. I knew in the back of my mind that a lot of my customers worked in the 'growth' industry, so I should have expected it. Just way too many regulars have come in and cut back on what they spend.

My wife's store, on the other hand, may very well be recession proof. After a couple of flat months, she's back on her growth curve. This is four and half years into her history, so I think that kind of growth she's getting has to be somewhat unusual.

So in sum, gross sales are down, but profits are holding even, and if you don't count inventory increases, maybe even going up a bit.

Still, don't let anyone tell you we aren't in a recession.

1 comment:

RDC said...

Used book stores tend to do well during down times. Avid readers still look for something to read. They just hit used instead of new. Same with thrift clothing shops.