Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I've said before, I think the most important attribute for a small business owner is the ability to think for yourself.

A couple of more confirmations of the time lag between what I see at my store, and news of what is happening in other stores.

Most stories I've read talk about a retail slowdown happening sometime in December, 2007 or even later. But turns out that J.C. Penney (I think it was them; or someone in that league) was talking about a slowdown way back in September, which more fits my observations.

Secondly, turns out the the comic market has had it's first slowdown since 2004; about a 7% drop in sales. Which is also something I noticed when I finished up my first quarter numbers. But I hadn't really heard anything about this from anywhere else. So here it is, with April almost done, and only now is there any news that it was slow Jan/Feb/March.

I've mentioned before that I go to a Bulletin Board that is full of other retailers. Which is great, and I learn a lot. But I hardly ever hear any of them mention a slowdown, and if one happens to let slip, ten other stores will immediately pile on about how great they're doing. I don't think it's a deliberate attempt to deceive, or even a pollyanna reaction; these are the savviest, most aggressive dealers in the country, for one thing; and for another, the most active posters are often relatively new stores which are still in the growth phase.

So confirmation that comics have been in a bit of a slowdown, and analysis that it was from 'event fatigue' the same reason I came up with, and that it's very difficult to top a high. Last year we had huge events from both Marvel and DC.

Anyway, since I've already ordered into June, it's just another instance of not waiting for the news to make decisions, because the news reports what's already happened, and by then it's too late.

Unless there is an outside factor (say new competition) or you know in some way that you have been dropping the ball (not making timely orders, or something -- something you know you're doing) it makes sense to trust your own figures. Chances are, everyone else is seeing the same thing, but you won't know that until months later.

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