For the first time since January of 2017 I am coming off a month where we were down from the same month in the previous year. We were down what amounts to a rounding error nearly, but damn it, down is still down, so I set out to find out where the changes were.
To do that I started with reports that compared departments from February of 2017 to February 2018. I began to see some of the picture forming early on.
Minis - Down 51% Minis Accessories - Up 33% Paint - Down 20% Mini Games Rule Books - Down 100%
As a department across the four sub-categories, the department was down 41%.
CCG Sealed - Down 45% CCG Singles - Up 138% CCG Accessories - Down 26%
As a department these were down a total of 9%.
RPG Books - Down 27% RPG Used - Up infinite (category didn't exist last year) RPG Minis - Up 36% RPG Dice - Up 55%
As a full group RPGs were up 12%.
CMG - Up 212%
Big HC release meant this was up big, yay for X-Men.
Board Games - Up 20%
Food & Drink - Up 11%
Entry Fees - Down 11%
First, let us be amused that Food & Drink went up by the same percentage that Entry Fees went down. I don't know what it says about butts and seats or whatever, but I'm amused.
So, it's easy to see that CMGs were up big on a HeroClix release, and Board Games were up big as well. I want to get into who was up, and why, so I'll be looking at that after the first glance by GL Codes.
Minis were down heavily, and CCGs were down an amount worth investigating. After looking at the categories, I started digging into the various companies. Let's talk about some of these companies.
Paizo - Down 75% Fantasy Flight Games - Down 57% Games Workshop - Down 53% Chessex - Down 38% Asmodee - Down 16% Wizards of the Coast - Up 40% CMON - Up 67% Privateer Press - Up 70% WizKids - Up 110% Renegade - Up 150% Exploding Kittens - Up 300% Days of Wonder - Up 400% Atlas - Up 450% IELLO - Up 800%
I want to better understand major ups and major downs, but I really want to understand major downs, so we started by looking at Paizo sales from the two months in question. The 2017 Paizo sales don't include anything new that moved substantial units, like nothing. Since it's Paizo I'm sure there was new stuff, but there was nothing that makes you go "Yup, that's the reason for a 75% decrease in sales." That product doesn't exist, and this just seems to be part of a trend of decreasing sales across the Paizo lines.
For Fantasy Flight Games the decrease can be tracked across multiple GL codes; but the vast majority of it comes from the miniatures category, where they were down 62%. They were also down in the board game category by 38%. The only place that FFG was up from 2017 to 2018 was in the sealed CCG area, where Destiny was up about 300%. I suspect that is largely because the stuff was nigh unobtainable during this part of 2017. The miniatures category loss was easy to find, as we sold substantial numbers of the new X-Wing releases in 2017. The board game changes can't be traced to any particular title, but just decreases across various titles.
Games Workshop being down isn't shocking. New releases no longer move at the rate they used to. I spent a few minutes staring at the comparison report and moved on. The one place you can see a decrease that matters is Blood Bowl. It sold very well last February, particularly the Dwarf team and dice, and didn't enjoy those same numbers this year.
Chessex hasn't been displaced by a new dice line, but it's been partially displaced. The loss from Chessex is made up more than completely by the new dice line, so not a ton of research needed here.
Asmodee down 16% is just an across the range issue. There was nothing huge in 2017, and nothing huge in 2018. (Reminder note, I categorize based on Alliance Codes, so Asmodee is stuff that comes with ASM, while Z-Man is ZMG, etc...)
Then we get into companies that were up.
Wizards being up shocked me a little. You see, I already told you that the 41200 GL Code (which is CCGs) was down, but Wizards was up anyway.
In sealed CCGs they were down 59%, but they were up 1200%. Yes, you're reading that correctly...1200%. In RPGs they were actually down 32%, something I can attribute to a mistake that occurred with my Wizards order (in that we forgot to hit submit and didn't get some stuff we ordered). Whoops. So Wizards was up 40% purely on the strength of our singles sales. I can take zero credit for that, that entire department works on the strength of my staff while I stay the hell out of the way.
Privateer Press being up 70% doesn't surprise me at all. The staff member who works as that product champion is second to none in my opinion. He has built that customer base one human being at a time, and they now not only have amazing tournament turnouts, but two nights a week they have a healthy open play scene that results in weekly special orders and product moving off the shelf.
WizKids was an interesting case study. They were down 100% in the CCG category (we no longer carry DiceMasters, although it will be returning in its non-collectible forms). They were up 125% in RPG Minis, and up 200% in CMGs. It's a healthy product mix from a good company, and it excites me to watch its continued growth.
Then we get into the board game companies seeing increases in my walls...
CMON continues to be carried in my four walls by Potion Explosion, Ethnos, and Massive Darkness. All moved units in February.
Renegade has done better across their catalog for us in the last three months, and we saw some movement from Pie Town off our demo table, as well as the two Clank! titles. There's also been a strange (according to my numbers) resurgence in Lotus and Lanterns.
Exploding Kittens is just what it is. Some months it's nutty, and some months it's just there, but it's always here.
Days of Wonder sales last year were strangely low, which leads me to believe that we were having typical ANA issues where I was missing something; Small World or some form of Ticket to Ride.
Atlas has increased sales that can be directly related to two current-ish product; Cursed Court and The White Box.
IELLO has continued to be a superstar for us in the last five to six months, and we moved multiple units of BK, MoM, KoNY (which now I'm out of, damn it), and an amount of their small box stuff that shocked me a little.
These companies contributed to the growth in board games, so thanks you guys. :)
On the other hand, the slow decline of X-Wing (and lack of new releases in the month) moved FFG on a downward trend, and the continued demise (in my walls, please don't think I'm saying the game is dying) of the SomethingFinder products resulted in a serious decline from that company as well.
Overall, having looked at the numbers I feel okay with my minuscule decrease in sales now. I can't do anything about the X-Wing release schedule, and I can't do anything about the player perceived weakness in current Magic sets that has led to a decrease in casual players buying packs and opening, even though draft numbers have remained relatively flat.
The places I can do something, like board gaming, are having success. Without a major February release we continued to drive sales in the category through better product knowledge and better use of our demo tables. The decrease in some other departments is something we can work to fix, but you have to be careful how you fix them. Could I just prize Magic more heavily and try to draw back some grinders? Yes. I could. I'd rather grind my face off with a piece of sandpiper than fight for the local Magic crowd based on price or perceived value though, so I'll pass and wait for Wizards to make a better game. :)
Yes. I just spent 1500 words on "numbers were down, but after seeing why, it's all good." Honestly, I hope everyone gets inspired to take a look at their numbers and better understand why some things are working and some aren't, because that's the moral of the story here, not the numbers themselves.