This week and the next are our slowest weeks of the year. It's traditionally a time of slow sales and there are few new releases. New releases drive sales, so it made me wonder, do manufacturers and publishers avoid this period because sales are bad, or are sales bad because of the lack of new releases? How much of this reinforces itself? How much is industry tradition? The tendency for me is to want to hunt down something new, rather than wait for the inevitable barrage of new product over the coming months. Or bring back some of those holiday items, just in case we attracted new customers who might be interested (like jigsaw puzzles).
Next week I'll be on vacation, because this is the best time to go, as opposed to the middle of the retail shopping season in December (knuckleheads). I'll be in Southern California visiting relatives and spending four days at Disneyland and California Adventures. I just want to thank the global warming gods for the weather. This is also the period where the dirty work gets done, the cleaning, inventory, website updates, mass mailing creations, and new merchandising. I actually enjoy that kind of work, but I'm mostly alone in that.
Financially, this is a period where you start burning off the fat of the holidays. Most stores have a surplus of cash from holiday sales to help get them through the slow first quarter. We're all somewhat reluctant to part with that cash, especially with the economy looking like it's in rough shape. I may claim we'll be alright, but I don't really know that. A strong store would have a surplus of cash sitting around, just as you would personally have a buffer of three to six months in case you were laid off. However, I don't know of many strong stores nowadays. Many have just barely survived 2008 and probably don't have reserves to weather further problems. As I've said before, I can survive a predictable recession, it's the unpredictable behavior like the October crash that throws things out of whack.