This week is unusual for us. Part of it has to do with the calendar, another part with the game industry, and the final part with the poor economy. This week is slow, much slower than in past years. The placement of the two major holidays so close to the weekends has it made an ideal vacation time. A lot of of the post-Christmas sales have been diverted to next week, or so the theory goes. It has given the perception that the post holiday season is soft, which if I consult the media, is true for everyone else, so why not us? It has re-injected more caution into my 2009 plans. I don't think I'll be entirely comfortable until February.
This week is also strange because of the usual game industry hiatus. Major companies take week long holidays from around Christmas until January. This is the same counter-intuitive argument I've ranted about for years, leaving your post while the enemy is invading, or some other metaphor that says this is the busiest time of the season, where are you? There has been a scramble for Magic cards, for example, with a backlog of distributor orders because Wizards of the Coast is closed. This issue goes to the heart of my problems with the game trade, the perception that it's not serious, that it's a lifestyle job. It's enough to make anyone trying to make a living at this go a little mad each year. Reinforcing the "getting the product to market" problem are the shippers.
UPS and Fedex are making things up as they go along. Retail holiday sales blew chunks this season, despite our success, so the shippers are getting lower levels of business than they would like. They've decided to take days off, or modify their schedule. UPS won't be picking up on Thursday, for example, while my Fedex driver tells me they're having a meeting today to decide. What does this mean to me? Just-in-Time is thrown out the window and I'm forced to stock up on projected sales items during a rather odd period. I'm not just spoiled with JIT, it's my business model.
Anyway, for those of us working very hard during this final week of the year, it's difficult not to think our partners are resting on their laurels.