Friday, June 1, 2012

Our eBay (and Etsy) month May 2012

This was our worst month in 2 years - literally.  I looked.  I had to go back to May 2010 to find a month when sales were lower.  Sales were lower this month than that awful 3 month period in 2011 when I thought sales were so slow. 

Now this is going to sound very simplistic, but the reason our gross and net amounts were so slow was because we didn't sell as much as we usually do.  Sounds reasonable I suppose. 

I track transactions per day and items sold per day (some transactions are for more than one item), and we had almost 2 transactions (with 2.8 items sold) per day fewer than normal.  That adds up over the course of 31 days. 

Every category I track was down, down, down.  Sales of single postcards were off by about 30%, sales of photos off by about 50% (that really hurt).  

Our international sales dropped off the charts.  Normally international sales account for 20% or more of our total sales.  Most of our international business goes to Canada, Western Europe and Australia, with a smattering of sales to other parts of the world.  In May our international sales were the lowest they've been since I've been keeping records, and not by a little.  A LOT!  Had our international sales been normal, it still would not have been a great month, but it would have been a lot more reasonable.

Like most months, I live in a semi-fog with all this.  I can tell what happened, but I can't tell why.  I have no idea why our sales were down, or why the international sales were low.  I can conjecture 'till I'm blue in the face, but the reality is I don't know.  I know much of Europe is in a financial crisis of sorts, but I refuse to believe that this minuscule business is any kind of measure of the global economy.

As bad a month as it was, we still made a profit. 

I don't subscribe to big business' definition of profit and loss.  A large company I worked for many years ago had a profit of close to $600,000,000 one quarter, but because in the same quarter the previous year they had a profit of close to $800,000,000, managers called a meeting and told us with a straight face that we lost $200,000,000, as if we were responsible or could do anything about it.     I'd look up at them and think "what assholes".  While I understood that the profit for one quarter was significantly less than the profit during the same quarter of the previous year, I didn't understand how a profit of $600,000,000 could be construed as a loss of any kind.  But in all fairness,  I never took a business course in my life, so what do I know.

Anyway, we made a certain amount of money through sales, we had to spend a certain amount on things like fees for using eBay & PayPal, postage, packaging supplies and so on.  The amount we spent on expenses was less than the amount we made on sales, hence we made  profit, at least in my naive little brain.    It wasn't as much as we usually do, but still, we did not lose money. 

That being said, I sure hope sales pick up.  June, July & August are typically the slowest months of the year for us, so that may be wishful thinking.  But whatever, we'll keep plugging away, and eventually the sales will come our way.  I reckon.