An informal ICv2 survey of retailers in the Midwest and West has found that last week's tragic events in New York City did have an immediate impact on sales, but a strong weekend brought sales for the week back to near normal levels. Though retailers in other parts of the country were spared the kind of profound impact that pop culture retailers in New York City had to endure (see 'Gotham Retailers Resilient'), sales suffered an immediate drop around the country as people by the millions watched events unfold on television.
Kim Kowalewski of Tomorrow is Yesterday in Rockford, Illinois told ICv2, 'Our store opens at 9 am, and on Tuesday I don't think we had a single customer before noon.' Still, by the end of the weekend sales totals at the Rockford store had made up for the extremely slow days that followed in the wake of the heinous attack on the World Trade Center towers.
Buddy Saunders of Lone Star Comics in the Dallas, Texas area told ICv2 that sales did slide in the first two days after the attack, but ended up as 'typical for this time of year.' According to Saunders during the days immediately after the attack, 'our focus as a nation was on the attack and its consequences. As our focus shifts toward getting the people who did this and insuring that such things can never happen again, the best thing we can do as a nation is to resume our day-to-day lives, living each day in a way that makes our nation stronger and better prepared to deal with our enemies.'
Bruce Ayres of Capital City Comics in Madison, Wisconsin saw a decline in sales and customer count and sales early in the week wiped out by stronger sales on the weekend.
Rory Root of Comic Relief in Berkeley said business was down last week, 'with customer counts being considerably lower than normal, but the average sale was up, almost enough to compensate.' Another Northern California retailer, Joe Field of Flying Colors also noted a major drop in customer count in the wake of the attack, but noted sales from Thursday through Sunday just about made up the slack. Field feels that, in the end, the sales decline was 'more a case of last week being a lighter shipment than the previous couple of weeks.'
In Southern California, Nancy Trempe of Comics Unlimited reported that traffic at her store was actually up on Tuesday, since most of the other stores and restaurants in their shopping center closed. According to Trempe, 'sales from Wednesday to the present have been pretty typical for this time of year.'
Retailer Joe Ferrara of Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz, California, like the other retailers we talked to said that sales were off in the middle of the week, but that 'Sunday was a better than normal day for us.' Like other California retailers, he praised Diamond for rerouting freight to get him his weekly shipment on the normal day. 'You should have seen the look of relief on people's faces when I told them that comics would be here this Wednesday as usual. A big thank you to Diamond...' Other retailers also mentioned getting their shipments on the regular day despite shipping disruptions as a big plus toward maintaining continuity.
Ferrara had some interesting observations on his traffic last weekend:
'I noticed that even though folks were coming in to get away from it they still needed to talk about it. Saturday was a day of sharing thoughts, emotions and discussions about life in general. It seems that in times of crisis people leave their isolated individual worlds and come together....'
And on the nature of what we do at this time, he said:'I think business has been steady because people want to go about their regular routines and are intent on not letting these events threaten the delicate fabric of what they perceive to be their 'normal 'lives.... My goal is to provide a smile and a little diversion from reality for anyone who walks through the doors of Atlantis. May we all find the inner strength we need to deal with this tragedy.'