Friday, October 2, 2009

September 2009 results.

I don't count a sales trend until I have three consecutive months under my belt.

Still, you have to have that first month....

September was the first month since July 07 that I was significantly higher than the previous year in the same month. (There were two other months in 2008 that beat the previous year by a bit.)

This is the first month in the last consecutive year that I've beat the previous year.

Not only did I beat September 2008, I fried it.

Even with the 5 fewer days (Labor Day and 4 Sundays off) I beat last year by 18%. If you take the daily average, I beat it by 32%. I basically matched the summer daily sales level.

That is such a Big Number, that I almost have to consider it a fluke. You know, how you throw out the worst and the best of a sample? -- this would be the best.

Comics and Graphic Novels showed the biggest improvement. I lost some longterm customers last year -- maybe 15% of subscribers. Some just failed to show up, others left town.

But over the last year I've slowly replaced them, one at a time, and we are back to previous numbers. Of course, it helps the totals that comics are probably a good 15% higher in prices this year.

The Categories.

1.) Comics. Up about 30%. The DC series, Blackest Night, has had a major impact on the monthlies.

2.) DVD's. Sold 4 times as many as last year, which wasn't hard to do what with selling them for roughly half price and zero profit...

3.) Sport cards were down by half. Not a big number, either way.

4.) Card games were up double, which makes sense since I had the hot product (2010) in stock all month at regular price.

5.) Boardgames were up double, but last year was unaccountably lower, compared to surrounding months.

6.) Books. Up marginally.

7. Toys. Down about 30%. I think these have been hit the hardest by the recession.

8.) Graphic novels. Also up by 30%, which is encouraging.

The only negative I can find is that the last 3 days of the month were just dreadful. Not an encouraging sign for October. Also, last October was relatively good, so it may be hard to beat. I've got high hopes for the new magic release -- I certainly spent enough money on it, so there is a chance. I also went and spent all the extra profit this But the month bailed me out of my misstep by about 2/3rds

I'm not expecting to beat last October unless the Zendikar is explosive. (I'll be kicking myself, if it doesn't at least sell well.)

But after that, I'd like to shoot toward beating November and December of last year.


Jeff said...

"Not only did I beat September 2008, I fried it"

So does this mean the Great Recession is over?

closerOK said...

Congratulations on the sales gains and trend discovery Duncan. Up 18% from last year is a big gain, but what about the gross margin trend? Are you sacrificing margin to boost sales?

Duncan McGeary said...


Like I said, it could be a fluke. You occasionally get months that are way higher than normal, just as you get months that are way lower than normal.

You don't want to base your planning on them.

I'd like to see a few months of trending upward, say Sept. Nov. and Dec.

Plus...well, last September may be one of the easiest months in history to beat, what with Lehman Brothers and AIG....

Duncan McGeary said...

The only margin I've give up is the anime and manga sales.

Since I'm not replacing them, they actually don't impact on the margins of the store since they subtract from the inventory.

closerOK said...

OK, sure, not replacing inventory has a lowering effect on inventory as a SUM, and helps with the tax effect also, some say. I can see that as a benefit of trend. However, still unclear, about COGS as a percentage of total sales, did you pay more for what you sold over last year, dollar for dollar sales? Sounds like your gross margin is unchanged over last year, but how does one really know about such things.....

Duncan McGeary said...

I don't do margins until the end of the year, just try to consistently buy at as low a price as possible and stick to SRP as much as possible.

I can tell you, last year (which I have to pay for on Oct. 15) the margins were much higher than normal.

I was buying an awful lot of product at discounts, but I was also not really increasing inventory.

I spent the five years between 2002 and 2007 rapidly adding inventory, and even new product lines such as boardgames and new books.

Just maintaining inventory probably boosts my margins by about 10% or more.

Duncan McGeary said...

I should say, just maintaining inventory instead of adding increases my "Cash" margins. Added inventory is counted as profit, but it isn't cash.

Duncan McGeary said...

In the same way the rich get richer, a well-stocked store becomes even better stocked.

I've tried to make the case that making a good profit margin isn't so much about my taking home money as it is for me to buy more inventory.

Someone told me early on, that you can tell the health of a small business by how often they have to resort to lower prices to sell anything. Or how often they are able to stay at full retail markup. For a small business, anything less than 40% isn't good.

What I've found is, the more stuff I bring in, the more I sell. The more I sell, the more I can stick to my prices. The more I can stick to my prices the more stuff I can bring in.

Especially, once you are 'fully' inventoried -- that is, you have the best 80% of possible product in each category, then you can just maintain that AND look for bargains to back it up.