I spent the weekend before Christmas shopping. I was in all types of stores from Wal Mart to small local antique shops. I was struck by the number of people in all these stores. But when you talked to the store employees, they all commented that people were spending less and just looking more. One employee had been working the same store for 8 years and thought that this was the quietest she had remembered. I think it is clear to everyone that our economy is hurting.
But I was also struck by what was selling. As you walked around the aisles, items that were priced under $12 were moving faster than higher priced goods. People still want to give gifts to friends, but they have less to spend.
When I started the Lafayette Puzzle Factory, I wanted to make sure that every product we sold was priced to be affordable. Puzzles are in many ways a recession buster. They give good value, offer a new challenge each time you put it together, and are easy to share among friends and family. In recent years, puzzles have gotten more and more expensive. The cost of paper and inks has definitely increased. And puzzles now offer more special effects than in the past (glitter, glow, foil stampings). A puzzle should offer many hours of play for much less money than other toys.
In the toys aisle you could see this very clearly a few days after Christmas. We subscribe to all sorts of market data that gives us details on puzzle sales at retail. But just walking around the different retailers puzzle aisles a few days after Christmas made it clear what was popular and what was not.
We are excited for the next couple of weeks. We have a busy schedule of appointments and based on what consumers seem to want and are willing to spend, our line of puzzles can help retailers offer their consumers outstanding value in these tough times.
I hope that 2009 is safe, happy and fruitful for everyone. Happy New Year.