The holidays are solidly upon us. The bookstore is filled with customers and books, lots and lots of books. I’ve decided that every Monday through Christmas, I’ll do a little recap of the highlights of the previous week, good and bad.
– I was totally surprised the find that there were shipping delays of up to three days with two of our largest distributors this week. It felt a little early in the season to have to say to customers, “I’m so sorry your book isn’t here, we’ve had shipping issues with our warehouse.” Here’s the thing, customers don’t really care about our shipping issues. They have their own issues. Most folks who order books the first week of December have to ship out their books, so any delay for them feels huge and sets them back on their ability to send out their packages. This is why we give out sugar plums all month. Nothing says it’s all going to be okay more than yummy candy.
– All retailers crunch numbers this time of year and we’re no exception. Our days the past week have been up considerably from last year. Interestingly, the number of transactions are actually lower, but people are spending a lot more per transaction. This tells me they are finding and buying more.
– Our annual newsletter stills drives book sales better than almost anything. Folks have come in asking for it, and they’re returning to the store with their marked-up newsletter and piling up the books. Customers have come to trust the newsletter recommendations (it helps also that Elizabeth does such a wonderful job with the graphics that it’s visually appealing and just fabulous). The newsletter display case is still the best one-stop shopping we’ll have all through the end of the month.
– Customers are in a good mood. Some folks are coming in to just look and get a sense of what they want and they’re happy with the choices they’re finding. People are taking a lot of care with their purchases. One woman spent two hours in the store surrounded by books and Post-its trying to decide what to get for her very large family. We helped her amass the stacks and then let her be, checking only periodically to see how she was doing. Five hundred dollars later, she was done. We helped her to her car and couldn’t help but smile when she said she’s not even close to done shopping yet.
– The print book is far from dead. Many customers are deliberately eschewing online shopping and e-books in favor of actual books and talking with real people about them. Many Vermonters have embraced the Shop Local movement and this can only help all the brick and mortar stores.
Retailers, how was the first week of December for you?