Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Well, this hasn't helped....

I've been saying for years that we retailers were gambling with the last two weeks before Christmas. The Oregonian says this morning that it's been a decade since shopping was impacted by weather in the Northwest, and that seems about right.

It appears that shoppers are holding off even longer than usual this year -- or aren't going to show up at all. But I have a feeling that, in the end, most people won't resist getting some stuff. I still have faith that Christmas won't be canceled, just scaled down and shortened.

Sunday was way, way down, and yesterday wasn't much better.

I set a very low criteria for this Christmas. Took my worse month over the last year (25% down) and added another 10%. Which is currently where I'm sitting. 35% is an enormously huge drop, but I only do 1/3 my Christmas business in the first half of December, so that drop can be wiped out in the second half by a surge of a couple good days. In fact, if wasn't for the last horriblus two days I was running 10% better.

Even if the rest of the month plays out at this level, I'll still break even. At even worse, (hard to imagine, but then....) I'll get all the bills paid, still have a fully stocked store, have my reserve cash intact.....and maybe, owe a thousand or two thousand left in credit card bills.

Disappointing, but still well below the balances I was carrying in the boom years, or even last year. (On the other hand, I'd been expecting big profits over this year when I was planning two years ago.....)

I'll be saving quite a bit in January and February by working the store myself, and probably will even have enough to polish off the credit cards then.

There is still time for a magical burst in spending. Often, it takes a couple of days for shoppers to get over the shock of a weather change, and then they're back out there.

And it fortunate that it happened 10 days before Christmas instead of 5 days before Christmas (who says I don't look on the bright side?) Another storm is on the way, but the second storm is never as impactfull as the first. People have broken out their coats, winterized their cars and houses and kids, and are ready to face the world.

I'm amazing calm about the whole thing -- I suppose for the first time, I feel like a mature retailer, who planned correctly, has adequate resources, and knows what to do.


RDC said...



Duncan McGeary said...

Absolutely. That's my number one goal right now.

I'll get 3/4ths of them paid off, even at the very worst. And I pretty sure I'll get the whole shebang paid.

But you're right. If I come up a thousand or two short, maybe I'll use the cash reserves to drop them to zero and replenish the reserves instead.