ICv2’s monthly sales analysis for March went up yesterday, and it was something of a grim milestone:
For the first time since March of 2001, the month that ICv2 began tracking sales of periodical comics through Diamond Comic Book Distributors, no comic sold more than 100,000 copies in March of 2009. While sales of periodical comics were down 7% in dollars for the month, the decline in units sold was greater, considering the rise in cover prices of key titles versus their cost in March, 2008.
In assessing the dollars for the month, ICv2 spins down as “Not bad, considering.”
With the U.S. in the grips of the deepest economic downturn in 80 years, sales of periodical comics and graphic novels were down just 5% in the first quarter of 2009 versus Q1 of 2008. In a quarter that has been described as the “worst retail environment in memory,” as an era when “flat is the new up,” a five percent decline is a drop that most retail sectors in the American economy can only dream about. Sales of periodical comics were down 6% for the quarter, but graphic novel sales were up enough to trim the overall drop in comic and graphic novel sales to just 5%.
Considering that bookstore sales were down 10.8 percent in February, and the wholesale slaughter in magazine and newspaper revenues, comics’ drop does seem petite. But we’re far from out of the desert. Let’s just say that Obama and WATCHMEN were well timed.