We sell products that it is logical to assume people would buy if they were delaying a major purchase, and sales have been strong recently.
I don't know the other side of the equation though, since we don't sell the major products ourselves. It may be due to other factors specific to us.
We're UK based, but I imagine that reaction to the last few weeks would be similar here and in the US.
We're going against soft figures from a year ago but the past few weeks have been up.
We sell products that are traditionally fairly recession resistant. I just hope they're Depression resistant! Could be that some shoppers are moving to the web for lower prices and to save gas costs.
I'm watching orders from hardest-hit states like Nevada, Florida and California. They seem to be off more than the rest.
We sell products that could be classified as purely optional purchases and have seen sales off about 10% year to year. Amazingly Sept 2008 was the best Sept we have ever had beating last year by 33%.
The slowdown for us started Oct-2007 and the pattern that we have noticed is that there is no pattern. It used to be that we could pretty much define when sales were going to come in and now there is no rhyme or reason for our customers behavior.
Since the AIG thing, it has been pretty slow for me. I have been taking the time to put up a new cart (finished last night--whew!), to get my newsletter mailing list together, and to work out new Google ads.
I spent about a year preparing some high-priced items for sale in this month, but when they started talking about a bailout, I thought maybe I better hold off. I talked to a customer the other day who called me twice about these items, wanting to buy two of them. So I decided that I would put half of them up for sale and see what happened.
Sales for us have been up this year since January and have stayed incredibly consistent every month since then. Traffic seemed to take a dip but not sales.
Our products are used by people in marketing and multimedia.
Last month was the best we've had... Go figure.
I think this is a difficult question to answer. Considering the impossibility of holding all variables constant you cannot really measure whether the economy is resulting in decreased sales.
For example, more people may know about your store now then 2 years ago. Does this mean sales are the same, or does it mean they are lower then what they should be given the age of your business? Not to mention whether you have changed any keywords, advertising budgets, or if your seach listings have fluctuated.
I am really interested whether anybody has seen a sudden shock these 2 weeks rather than their overall performance this month or this year. The reason is that with all the headlines news of the 700B bailout going on, I wonder whether potential shoppers would be distracted whether there is a recession or not.
I remember that in the week following 911, sales were grossly affected for a week or two before returning to normal. Also when Bush, Bernake and Paulson warns that the economy is in grave danger, potential shoppers may start reining in. Here where I am in Hong Hong, there is definitely a palpable atmosphere of fear, with the high-end restaurants most affected. Bearing in mind that the local population here was the most confident about their economy in the world at the beginning of the year.
We were heavily effected by Hurricane Ike up through the beginning of last week so business has definately been a lot slower over the past month (as expected).
We weren't sure if this was purely due to the hurricane or possibly the economy as well. I have a feeling that it was due to both factors and other variables beyond our control.
Yesterday and today have both been very good days however and amazing for morale. If the economy is starting to become a factor we'll just have to make the best of it and keep being creative from a marketing perspective and continue to grow via excellent customer service / repeat customers, SEM, and SEO.
American economic woes started more than 2 years ago with a cooling real estate market in a few enclaves like South Florida and Las Vegas. 911 was a sudden and profound shock that killed our web traffic and business for much longer than a week or two. I don't think you can compare the two.
American's are gradually being forced to be more frugal but otherwise I've seen little indication we are changing our habits due to all the financial news. The election debates may have been a bigger distraction recently.
I have seen a big difference in the past two weeks. Some days I have had one sale. It's creepy. This is even though the traffic is actually slightly higher than last year at this time, and even though typically in October I have decent business. I have talked to a merchant in a nearby niche who has seen a major downtown in the past month. Usually this time of year is very strong for her because people are buying stuff to make gifts for the holidays, but she has had to cut back her employees' hours and then lay them off. So I know I'm not alone.
I was wondering why no one was talking about it on Ecommerce, since there always seems to be a thread about "my sales are dead this week!" regardless of how the economy is doing or what is going on in reality. I figured maybe it was bad enough that no one wanted to talk about it.
When they keep yelling that the sky is falling, you can't help but start to believe it and hunker down, and I think I am seeing that in my business. I myself am spending little right now, so I can't blame my customers if they aren't spending either. Yet I have also talked to customers in the past two weeks who are buying high ticket items from me and from other merchants. They expressed worry that maybe they shouldn't be spending this money now, but they bought anyway. This gave me the idea last night of not only rolling out some of the high-ticket items I've been preparing for a year, as I mentioned, but also of starting some even more expensive ones, in the $300-500 range. What the hey, if these folks have money and are willing to spend, they might as well give it to me, especially when I am not getting many of those $35 sales.
My sales would be really easy to predict if people weren't involved....
We have been down about 20% 2008 vs 2007 sales figures...until last month. We had the best Sept. ever this year, and one of our best months ever. Before any major conjecture starts: We have been optimizing AdWords a bit more; cut the advertising budget in half this Sept. vs last Sept. but kept roughly the same levels in traffic (up about 3%).
|What the hey, if these folks have money and are willing to spend, they might as well give it to me, especially when I am not getting many of those $35 sales. |
Wealth is recession and depression proof. The top 10% remain in the top 10% of income/wealth even when times are bad...and they tend not to alter their spending habits greatly. It's truly odd. Things like high priced art and 2, 3, 4 million dollar homes sell even when unemployment soars and inflation goes through the roof. Mega yacht sales are up this year, too...go figure. While its counterintuitive, your $500 items might have more buyers than your $35 during a downturn, short-run (or long-run, depending on your time frame).
I think you are right, HugeNerd. And at this point, it is not much of a risk to give it a try and see what happens.
I have seen a change during the last two weeks. Not "bad" persay...but I usually see a 20-25% jump this time of year and it hasn't happened. Sales started to ramp up as expected around Labor Day, and the last few weeks the air just came out of the balloon. Like HRoth's friend I generally get a boost from people buying things used to make holiday gifts; average ticket is $48.
I'm having April numbers in September/October. Hello recession...
|We sell products that are traditionally fairly recession resistant. I just hope they're Depression resistant! Could be that some shoppers are moving to the web for lower prices and to save gas costs. |
We're in the same boat with traditionally recession-resistant products. And although we have seen some lower sales overall, the last three months have been better than the first six months of this year.
Earlier this year we did, however, lower shipping by five cents--that "perceived value" in $4.95 instead of $5.00. One thing for sure is a drop in overnight and 2-Day shipping.
One last thought about X factors in sales: we never stop with seeking (and sometimes getting) publicity. And while print media has taken a hit in our industry, TV and blogs march on. TV especially because they rerun shows. Thank heavens for HBO is all I gotta say, because when we least expect it, they'll rerun shows we've been featured on.
So all that is to say that despite the downed economy, those seeming intangibles can work in one's favor.