Looking for Stabilization 11/23/2009
Looking for Stabilization
by David Hachmeister
One of the long-held industry adages has been that we are late going into a recession and late coming out. So seems the case this time. Even though figures for November 2008 fell dramatically, the string of double-digit declines didn't start until April 2009. (February and March were actually up for us from the previous year.) By then the national economic slide was long-established. Stamp sales fell by about 22 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. Other products also showed a decline, but only less than four percent.
Anecdotally, we are hearing sales are down about 15 to 20 percent. Our numbers seem to confirm that trend and that a bottom that formed in April may hold. We have seen stabilization since then with average monthly sales in a range of $54,000 to $62,000. Sales had been in the low to mid $70,000 area, peaking in July 2008 at $74,560.
Small shops seem the have gotten in a little earlier and are moving ahead now. Sales have actually been up two of the last three months. This month they fell a bit—just under three percent. This makes sense, as smaller shops tend to deal with smaller companies. They tend to be a little more nimble in cutting expenses than the big boys are. So the small companies are starting to rebound. For those of us still standing, we should thank our lucky stars our industry's products are a necessity, not a luxury.
Click each graph for a larger view.