Over the last few weeks, rumors had swirled that Diamond was looking to restart shipping product in mid-May after having announced a shut-down in shipping back on March 23rd.
Yesterday, I’m told Marvel advised retailers that they were starting to adjust their shipping schedule, and today Diamond made it official with an announcement which you can read below.
As alluded to in this letter, this is situation with endless moving parts – in many starts lockdowns are still in place, printers have shut down, publishers need to avoid a glut of product. However publishers are beginning to readjust FOC dates, and retailers will be able to order based on their unique situations.
However, the pent up demand for new comics, is such that, the engine must be restarted, because, as Brian Hibbs suggested, restarting an engine this big takes quite a bit of time.
While you can be sure that this plan will have some twists and turns before you’re reading your Wednesday comics again, the idea of comics returning has to be a bright spot in the ongoing global pandemic crisis.
The Other Side of COVID-19
Although we are not yet on the other side, we are tracking COVID-19 developments daily and starting to see signs of the spread slowing in certain areas. Like you, we are thinking about and planning for when and how we will restart the shipping of new weekly product. We have been closely watching the news, listening to our retailer and publisher partners and considering the many points of view as we decide, as an indusstry, how to proceed.
With health and safety of employees, retailers and customers a top priority, we need to be very deliberate about how we restart and scale operations. We must find that delicate balance between managing health and safety concerns, meeting the pent-up demand for product and working with retailers whose situations differ, and whose need for product may have changed.
While there are many steps and conversations that need to happen between today and resuming distribution of new weekly product, we are currently targeting mid- to late-May with the hope that, as an industry, we can all work toward that timeframe. Of course, as we have all seen, target dates sometimes need to be adjusted in this ever-changing new-normal. But we cannot wait for firm dates. We have started the planning process and are having these important conversations with publishers and retailers so that once we have more clarity, we are in a position to restart and scale operations over time.
Our intent is to restart the weekly FOC process once we have worked with publishers on a new schedule for product releases. Product that was originally scheduled for release on April 1st and 8th will be distributed over a longer period, allowing publishers to work with printers to deliver new product without further interruption. Retailers will be able to adjust order quantities for those products, making sure that they are receiving quantities that make sense for the current situation in their stores.
While we look forward to the resumption of weekly new product, we know that many retailers continue to take advantage of restocks of backlist product via Diamond’s Retailer Services Website. We encourage retailers to ensure their Comic Shop Locator Service listings are up-to-date with services offered, such as delivery or curbside service, and that store hours are accurate. This will help direct customers to stores that can continue to meet their needs through this time.
Please also continue to consult our Coronavirus Resources page for an ongoing list of resources available to retailers. Additionally, retailerservices.
diamondcomics.com/coronavirusis a single source for other Coronavirus-related information from Diamond and our publishers.
Thank you for your understanding and support as we all plan for our future. We are committed to communicating with you during this process and look forward to our continued partnership.