The CBI published results from its monthly Distributive Trades Survey today and signs are promising for High Street retailers. While the survey is not solely aimed at the games industry, High Street retail outlets are included and at this time of year the video game retailers are an increasingly important part of that group.
Sales for the year up to October showed the most positive rate of growth in almost two years. I know it was my birthday half way through the month but looking at my presents I don’t think I can take all the credit for this growth. The survey also indicates that Retailers are more optimistic about November than they have been about any month since July 2007.
With many in the video games industry spending the first few months of the economic downturn claiming to be “recession-proof” and the following year closing studios, watching retail and distribution go under and seeing the start of an industry-damaging Supermarket price war is this the first sign that things will start getting better for retail? Coupled with the recent microscopic growth in the housing market I think we are seeing signs that the economy is turning around but either way this is probably going to be the most important sales season for the games industry in years.
Not only are we trying to pry ourselves free from the jaws of recession but we are also seeing a shift towards digital distribution and several different pricing experiments with titles such as Modern Warfare 2 and Championship Manager. Add to that the fact that the cut-rate VAT in the UK will return to its usual 17.5% in January (and that this increase may be used by a few unscrupulous money-men to explain away small price increases) and we might see some people attempting to beat the increase by spending in November and December.
What is your money going to cross the counter for in the run-in to Christmas or will all your “Holiday 09” purchases be online? What is your strongest motivation when parting with your cash, price, convenience or impulse? Would you rather see a long-term healthy and competitive High Street market or a short term drop in prices (followed by an inevitable increase)?