Friday, July 17, 2009

Jobless recovery?

A jobless recovery seems a little oxymorony to me. Especially for retail. Still, I'm hearing people talking about moving to Bend, and others buying houses. My foot traffic still seems pretty high.

But I seem to be missing my target audience -- the 20 to 40 year olds who come into my store on vacation and find material they've been looking for. What I seem to be getting is lots of older couples buying a few books, (cheap books at that) and lots of young families buying little or nothing, maybe a pack of cards. Packs of teenagers who giggle over my designer toys and can't seem to relate to anything in the store but video game related material.

After a terrific first 11 days of the months, I've had a very slow last five days, bringing me smack dab back to average. Unfortunately for my profit level, I got a little carried away earlier this summer when it looked like it was going to outperform. (Notice, I haven't talked about my budget much --- um, budget? What's that?)

I spent the last couple of days in a bit of a funk, but woke up this morning with a fresh viewpoint. I surveyed the store in my mind's eye, and realized it was completely stocked. All I need do is keep it up, and quit trying out new things all the time.

Fact is, I'm still having my best year in terms of cash profits, which is the most important kind of profit of all. So time to reboot:

First of all, I need to revive my mindset that I had for the first half of the year, and keep my expectations low.

Secondly, it's my experience that this kind of slowdown doesn't turn around quickly. In fact, it feels most like that time between 1995 and 2000 when things were slow to dormant.

Third, I need to keep my ordering down to the essentials. Reorder Y -The Last Man when it sells. Settlers of Catan when it sells. But that terrific deal on StarGate figures? Well, I already have a mix in stock, and I've sold like two in a year. Pass, dude.

Four, I need to relax. I'm in good shape. No debt, a store full of stuff. I'm talking about at the worse making less profit instead of more. This is a walk in the park compared to the past. Any stress is self imposed.

So I need to plan for the rest of summer, but I'm already looking at fall. Which I want to hit with a running start.

This week will influence what I order for the next two weeks, and especially my monthly order for September (due in ten days). It will keep me restrained in my outlook. When these two weeks are over, I only have about 2 more weeks where I can affect summer sales, and maybe I'll just let those go by and coast.....

It seems counter-intuitive, but I've always let summers and Christmas take care of themselves -- stuff sells. It's the off season that I need to pay for having as complete and timely an inventory as possible. In order to do that, I usually accumulate cash (or at least eliminate debt) in the busy times.

I just forgot that for awhile.

Meanwhile, my point of sale computer is up on the counter. I started entering subscriptions yesterday, and immediately ran into problems. Aaron's coming by on Monday, so I'll ask him then.

The rep keeps telling me not to worry, that it will all work out, that it won't be as big a problem as I think. It's one of those things where I know in a year or two I'll look back and what seems like an overwhelming amount of information now will seem normal.

The thing is coming online on August first, but I'm keeping my old beat up register on the other side of the counter for awhile, just in case.

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