August 10, 2021: Freight: An Extinction Level Event
Global shipping is a nightmare. We have already posted a few Daily Illuminator entries about the state of freight (May 23, June 29), and things are not getting better. Freight costs were once a part of the business; now those costs threaten to devastate publishers.
As an example of how freight is impacting games, our Car Wars Sixth Edition project required five containers (all on the water, and slowly making their way to our primary warehouse) that each cost over 3x more than they would have if the game had shipped in 2020. As many of you know, 2020 was the planned shipdate . . . and then a global pandemic decided to enter the picture and completely disrupt our plan and the manufacturing schedule.
These freight costs are tearing into already-thin margins for many publishers, and some publishers are being forced to make decisions between shipping now and losing money, or holding inventory at the factory – and losing money. If there is such a thing as win-win options in game publishing (or for any small businesses who rely on global trade), we're now as far from those options as we can get.
We, Steve Jackson Games, are fortunate that we have evergreen sellers and that we took steps late last year to stock up on some of those top titles for the 2021 holiday season. Munchkin Deluxe, Zombie Dice, and Illuminati Second Edition are in the warehouse, and deeper inventory levels on those top titles will help us weather the next six months or so. But unfortunately, the day is fast approaching when the freight costs will force our hand and we'll have to take steps to mitigate the excessive (and increasingly painful) impact of freight. (Not to mention rising overhead costs in other facets of the operation. As you may have noticed, everything is getting more expensive these days.)
If you have a small game publisher or two who you want to see survive to create new games, please visit your favorite local game store* today and buy a game or two. The publishers and retailers will appreciate the show of support.
-- Phil Reed
* And yes, we mean visit a physical store. Because as bad as things are for the small publishers, several of the small game stores are also facing tough times and can use your support if they're going to be here next year. If you're not sure of where your nearest local store is located, please visit our store finder. If you're a retailer who is not already in our store finder, please email firstname.lastname@example.org today and we'll get you added to the list.
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