In which Mike goes on about boring retailing stuff you probably already know about.

§ January 19th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on In which Mike goes on about boring retailing stuff you probably already know about.

From Film Fodder’s look at DC Comics December sales:

“DC’s Infinite Holiday Special sold 24,368 copies according to the charts, coming in at #93. Did retailers under order? I know that I arrived only a few hours after opening at my local comic shop and they had sold out. During a visit to another retailer, they had similarly sold out and were anticipating the question at the cash register. There’s a lesson in there, somewhere, for retailers.”

We based our orders for the Infinite Holiday Special on sales of previous DC Christmas specials, which, for the most part, didn’t sell all that well. And, once they get back-issued, that’s where they tend to stay…I’ve experimented once or twice with putting out previous Christmas specials when the holidays rolled around, but with no luck. So, when it came time to order DC’s offering for Christmas 2006, low rack sales of previous X-Mas specials + no sales as back issues = low orders for this new funnybook. And I suspect we weren’t the only retailer that came to the same solution for this equation.

As it turned out, the Infinite Holiday Special did sell through fairly quickly, and I had a few inquiries for it after it was out of stock, requiring reorders.

I don’t know what lesson we are supposed to learn here, exactly, other than “no matter how carefully you plan your orders, something’s gonna catch you by surprise,” which, frankly, we already knew. So, to answer this columnist’s question, yes, as it turned out, we did under order (even adjusting for any extra sales it may have picked up with the Infinite Crisis-referencing title — yeah, that sort of thing does make a difference), but only because the sales on this new holiday special were slightly higher than we could have predicted, based on the sales of previous holiday specials.

Even with all the monthly cycle sheets and gauging of customer reaction one does, it can be difficult to predict sales of a book three months down the road when you’re placing orders right now. We ordered four or five times our regular numbers of Superman for issue #75, the “Death of Superman” issue…who knew that “real world” news would hype up the story between placing our order and the comic’s release, and that we easily could have sold fifty times our regular order? We ordered a large number of Turok #1s, a highly anticipated debut issue from Valiant Comics, a red-hot publisher…who knew that the comic market crash would come between our order and its release, resulting in Turok #1s being a bargain box favorite, not just at our store, but across the nation?*

Okay, those examples are bit more extreme than being caught a few copies short on a Christmas comic, but hopefully that demonstrates what retailers have to go through in order to order your funnybooks. Even armed with sales records and customer input, we’re still making our best guesses as to how things are going to sell two or three months from now…usually we’re pretty close (especially with Marvel and DC’s new “Final Order Cut-Off” programs, allowing us to do some last minute adjustments), but, you know, sometimes, shit happens, which should come as a surprise to nobody.

One other thing from that article…like that columnist, I think more of you should be reading DC’s relaunch of The Spirit. That comic’s fantastic!

* I go into more detail here and here about these two comics and the market crash, if you’re interested.

Comments are closed.