Once again, for the sake of my own business planning, I'm going to be making some informed (wild-assed) estimates (guesses) on the business climate in Bend.
I have no other information than my own sales figures (navel gazing) and experience.
I suspect that sales in Bend, overall, are probably down 10% to 30% or more from the peak. Let's average it out at 20%. At least, that's where I would've been if I hadn't added new books and new games.
Of course, some stores probably aren't seeing a downturn at all, some are probably actually seeing an increase, some are probably sucking eggs. But, overall, I think a 20% estimate isn't probably far off. At least for established stores. For new stores -- well, they don't even have figures to compare, do they?
Second question. How long will this last?
I'm betting anywhere from 2 to 5 years from now. So, we'll probably see a further decrease in sales for at least a year or two.
Meanwhile, Bend has so much momentum, retail-wise, that I think we'll see stores popping up all through that period.
How are others going to handle it?
Some will have the ability to handle a 20% decrease, but not the motivation. Some will have the motivation, but not the ability.
If that 20% becomes 25%, the formula changes again. Some new stores won't even know what they're missing, (lucky or unlucky?) though they might fall short of projections. Still, downtown Bend is such a high-end location anymore that I'm going to assume most new businesses have some capital to back them up.
Small business is hard even when the business climate is good. On the other hand, I've always maintained that new businesses can last 2 or 3 years even when they're bleeding red, and there are so many businesses in that time frame that we're unlikely to see a collapse.
At least, not one that is noticeable. Bend has a very high churn rate. I suspect that when a business vacates downtown Klamath Falls or Baker City, it has a noticeable impact. In Bend? Not so much.
Ironically, it is the older more experienced businesses that seem to quit first. Both because they know that things are unlikely to turn around any time soon (and like I said, they know business is hard even when times are good.) And because they have a weakened immune system.
As I've said before, many stores can survive, but at a weakened state, which is a dangerous place to be. I don't expect a major downturn from here, but it could happen, and that's when the weakened state starts to become a deciding factor.
Any way you slice it, though, it will be a long slow process, muddled by the continued opening of news stores. It's unlikely that lease rates will decline any time soon. I'm going to continue to hunker down, just in case.
Coming 4/1/15 -- really.
1 day ago