Framing's Slowest Month?


PFG, Picture Framing God
Nov 21, 2005
Carson City, Nevada
I just finished paying my end-of-the-month bills. Which brings to mind a question...
Twice today I was told that July is "traditionally" the slowest month of the year in retail, and in framing.

What say ye, Grumblers??
Well this July has sure been a slow one for me - and my local distributor tells me everyone is slow.

Too darned hot. I feel like I should find one of those old posters from the 50's that says "Shop in Air Conditioned Comfort!" Think that would help???
Historically it's June, followed by April then September

October, Nov, May and March are about par...

December leads them all and depending on shop, followed by Jan,and Feb

IMHO and MY experience
Good Gawd Baer, what the heck is THAT thing?? Was that in our avatar list?? Now I REALLY want to know WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT'VE YOU DONE WITH OUR BAER??
please bring him back...

June, huh?
July has been slow for me this year but in previous years my slowest months have been May and September.

Oh, and then there was October two years ago that was my slowest month ever, but that was due to tropical storm damage in the area. Everyone was busy dodging storms and then repairing the damage.

Thankfully my slow months aren't as slow as they used to be.

Val, you know how kids can be - experimenting with their looks and all...which reminds me - you need to 'come back' as well! I thought your avatar projected a refreshing air of innocence...
I think it really varies depending on the year and market. Tourist areas, etc.

For us, June 05 beat December. June 06 was the slowest month in the history of the shop. July will meet its numbers from last year, but is traditionally not a stellar month. This past week has been great. Septembers are always great here, right through until Feb or so. March is traditionally slow for us.

I think a lot of it has to do with marketing and weather. The "fish dont bite" when the weather is great or extreme.

In short, I don't think one can easily pin down an answer to your question

My July was nearly identical to my June. Wait, there's still one more business day left of July, that could change!

It's been frightfully hot here the past couple of weeks. And I don't have previous years to compare it to, except the previous owner's, and his July last year was about 75% less than mine, but he wasn't around a good deal of the time either, so that isn't a very good indication.

I can't complain. Since I started on Jan 1st, and had 2 major surgeries since, and the recoveries after, and haven't advertised a lick (...yet, that's changing soon), I'm grateful for the business I do have!

I wasn't complaining, just curious.
I agree with Mike, ir really depends on where you are. June is a nightmare around here, and proved to be very slow, July has been breathing new life into my shop. Around here July and August is the big tourist season, and second homers arrive here for the summer, traditionally we will have a slow down in Sept as school supplies break every parents budget , and Oct-Dec steady growth. Jan fluctuates between great and horrible..try and survive Feb, with glimmers of hoped in March, April and May.

I've just hit my one year amrk for new shop, after talking with other area framers they all had horrid Junes, and July just like myself nice growth.

..and yes Baer....its just getting worse with your avatars.....have pity on us lol
Last year we had a week in August (mid month) that was horrible. I thought everyone had just left town and didn't tell us. Great time for a vacation I guess if it happens again.
I tried tracking busiest month, busiest day of the week, busiest hour of the day for 27 years and concluded that my customers operate in truly random patterns.

The worst single month I ever had and the best were both Augusts - just a couple years apart.

On average, February and March were a bit slower but there were some notable exceptions to that rule as well.

Do the best you can and don't make yourself crazy trying to recognize a pattern or comparing your numbers with other Grumblers.
When it goes over 102 degrees in Phoenix 'everyone' leaves town for "cool country"......uhhhmmmmmm, where would that be these days????? Thus, less traffic until they all come back and remember, the 'dry heat' isn't so bad after all!
Just finished our month on Sun. Closed Mon.
Did a 1000.00$ better than last year, which was a very good year. Been doing this now for 30 + yrs.
Can say with certainty Dec. is best month all others are a crapshoot, And my busyest day will come with a snowstorm. Go figure.
We have been very busy up here in Canada except for April/May of this year. Don't know what happened but are now back to being extremely busy that we are telling customers that it may take 3 weeks to complete.
Ron is on to something here. One cannot predict anything with framing customers. Apart from Nov. & December, which are busy with a fair amount of certainty, everything else is in the stars.

Lately, it has been busier on Mondays than Saturdays. But not in winter, except when it's a full moon....or something like that.
Originally posted by Paul N:
Ron is on to something here. One cannot predict anything with framing customers. Apart from Nov. & December, which are busy with a fair amount of certainty, everything else is in the stars.

Well of course Ron is right Paul! But part of the insanity of being a frame shop owner is to torment ourselves relentless with that we cannot predict or control......duh...LOL
From Adkry:"And my busyest day will come with a snowstorm."
I'm praying for snow!!

In winter, Saturdays were my busiest days. Now they're slow, until the last hour and then 4 people will come in at once and make my week!

Each month this year so far has been nearly identical, except March, which was terrible. But then, I was in a walker and then the first hip surgery and couldn't do much production. Maybe due, in part, to that?

There's really no figuring it out, is there, except for Nov & Dec. I hope!!

My reason for asking was so I could schedule, or re-schedule, my knee surgeries before the end of the year (get in on the already-satisfied deductable!). Left knee arthroscopic (piece o' cake) is not yet scheduled. Right knee replacement (NOT a piece o' cake) is scheduled for Dec 26th. Guess I'll just let it stay there. Then I'M DONE! Not going to be easy anytime, but maybe I'll be ready for a break by then.

Let's hear it for next year....HIP-HIP-(knee-knee) HOORAY!!
Knee surgeries, too? Oh, my! You're so sunny and upbeat and fun to grumble with! Just wanted to say you're inspiring and I'm sending you best wishes for everything good in your life!
Yep, my hip and knee joints are (were) dissolving, just disappearing. A condition called AVN (Avascular Necrosis) I got shorter, with my new hips I'm getting taller back up to a whopping 5'3"!

Sue, I'm "upbeat" and optimistic because if I whined and got bummed, I'd be in deep doo-doo. I'd be finished. I'm so grateful that something can be done now, no sense looking back, just forward. And "the future's so bright I gotta wear shades!" :cool: :cool: :D :cool: It can only get better from here...yeah? I'm Framing again, living my dream and what's better than that?
Hey Sherry-July will be a great month in our stores; this weekend was spectacular

A lot of folks use the heat as an excuse.

According to actual numbers, the two slowest months in the Westcor properties are Oct and April (same for us). Those two months, in my opinion, have the best weather

It must be incredibly difficult to do any kind of planning when the sales numbers are so unpredictable

Do you think other businesses have the same scenario or is it just we small framers?
Hi neighbor Bob!! Good 'hearing' from you, as always!

Sounds like you have the July crowd that cools off in malls while my July 'crowd' heads out to places like San Diego. The year-round school systems are back in session, so my 'crowd' is shopping again. Funny how it works.

I believe there are way too many variables that affect sales - current decor trends, gas prices, special events, flu, kids going off to college....we could make a list a mile long and still not be done. So......being a bottom line kind of person, I tend to trend out a period of 3 - 6 months. If I'm not happy with my graph, it is addressed. If I'm happy with it, I go to the mall! :D
No problem, Sherry. We always use the old "everyone goes to the fair" excuse in October and "everybody is paying their taxes" in April

Bottom line: Most folks can track these normal "trends", but, in reality, it matters little. Most of us can't cut back on payroll, or advertising dollars or anything else. The key is to prepare for the predictable as best you can

For us, Hotel del time is August

For the four years I've been open, I've been trying to get a "handle" on annual buying patterns by asking other framers and other local businesses that are small retail.

I think it is completely volume/"ticket size" related. For businesses that have small ticket sales, the year to year trends seem to be consistent and predictable. For businesses that have "large" ticket sales (I don't have a good number for this, but let's say over $100), then the business has to exceed a certain volume to show trends consistently. (I think the number is about 250k.)

Essentially, while we are small it is much too easy for one or a few sales to send a month in one direction or the other. It's not too surprising when you realize that one sale can represent 10% or more of a month!

Once you reach "trendable" status, WHAT your trends are seems to be HIGHLY location dependent. Mall/weather/tourist area and other factors can drive a particular month consistently up or down.

Just some of my observations and hypothesises. Not truly scientific.

BTW, the summer seems to be the "slow" time for me. But, it could be June, July, or August. When I'm done, the three months seem to be consistent with the same period in the previous year. Usually one of the three months is exceptional, but the other two are down relative to the "average month" for that particular year.

And, what it means is, as I staff up, (this Fall I hope to begin!) I will try to hire "part-timers for "mother's hours" with the understanding that I EXPECT them to take school holidays off, especially the summer!
Originally posted by Val:
And "the future's so bright I gotta wear shades!" :cool: :cool: :D :cool: It can only get better from here...yeah? I'm Framing again, living my dream and what's better than that?
Well, add me to the list of your cheerleaders! I love positive people!
In the 10 months I've been in business, my slowest months were January and February 2006. In January, we had 26 straight days of rain, and I blamed that. Plus I figured people had spent a lot of money Christmas shopping and were broke afterwards. I theorized that once we had even the faintest indicators of spring (e.g. primroses for sale in front of the grocery store), then people's spirits started to rise again enough to go shopping.
Originally posted by Bob Carter:
is it just we small framers?
You are joking, right?
My slowest month, almost always is August! Our schools start next week and everybody is buying school clothes.

But it has been very random.

"It's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get!"
We just had our best July EVER. (finally took some of Bob Carter's advice).

One of the best days of the month was yesterday. I think the heat index was 110, the main street in town -where our shop is located- was closed for two blocks in either direction while 4 of our downtown stores burnt down (literally). Go figure.
Maryann, will you share with us which advice of Bob's did you take that made a difference? Anything in particular?
In a nutshell, we made some good purchases and sold them at a great price point. Had a sale and blew out lots of "barking spiders". The sale signs increased traffic in general and I think they reminded people who were driving by and saw the sign, "Oh yeah, I have to get xxxxx framed." After the sale signs went up, we saw a big increase in framing, which was not on sale.

We're getting ready to remodel the store and the less we have to move the better, so everything except for my first born is on sale. The up side is that it's generating a some of the funds for the remodel too!
July 06 just beat December 05, I market to corporate that's busy in July in my area. If I catch a deal or two the work keeps me going strong. Out of 7 years here I only failed one summer to pull extra business. Retail is slow for the record.


GOOD EYE! Re: Bob Carter's "we small framers"....let's see, I believe he has two stores, Scottsdale, eats at Ruth Chris Steakhouse, has a direct line to Senator John McCain....hmmmmmmmm. I think I'm going to 'go smaller'! :eek:
Sherry-You have been in my humble stores; we are certainly not big. Compare me to any number of independent retailers-than to any group of franchises-than to any chains-than to Micheal's or Aaron Bros

We are small, indeed

I just doesn't mean we have to think that way or earn that way

And, thanks, MaryAnn for the very nice compliment. But, I never told Bob and you anything that you did not know; but just somethings that, for whatever reasons, just don't seem to apply to most framing operations.

We don't go to church to learn new ways of being better people, but to be reminded of the ways we hae been taught before
But Bob, there's small and then there's small. (what's the html to make the font smaller?)

In this case we were talking about predictability in our monthly volumes on a year to year basis. From what I've understood, your operations have "sufficient" volume to establish patterns. For many of us it hasn't happened, yet.

As I stated earlier, our individual ticket sales seem to be large enough relative to total monthly volume that trends at the "monthly" level are not meaningful to track.

And, as to your question, NO I don't think it's "just we small framers." I believe it's any business that has large individual sales and "insufficient" gross volume.

Whenever a single sale can change the outcome of a month trends at that level aren't reasonable expectations.
Cliff-I hear you, but insist that I view our operation as a "small business"

I share your "single sale can make a difference" point of view. Except that I view it as "Daily" challenge, which is why we work so hard at finding a way to capture every single sale

One of my favorite stories involves a visit from the father of one of my favorite Grumbler's. He came in to "seek out the Holy Grail", to find out what we did that was so different-looking for that magic bullet

The son emailed me after dad's visit dissappointed that they couldn't put their hands on that single vein of information; that single nugget of wisdom

He said, and I'll never forget it, that "You aren't any different than the rest of us"

And, I never took it as a criticism

So, yes, I do see myself as a small, independent framer
Yep, I agree, you HAVE a small business!

In my previous life your business wouldn't be big enough to get a rep to call on you. You'd have to deal with the phone rep only. Not a criticism, just perspective. BUT, I hope to be half your size when I grow up! ;)
Having met you, Cliff, in a few years I am certain that I will be wanting to be as big as you

There is nothing in the way for you to be all that you wish.

That is a great point about perspective