Diane Morrow

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – The 2013 CBA State of the Industry Report reveals the Christian-retail channel overall had a very good year with 2012 sales jumping 8.55% over 2011 sales. Every quarter in 2012 reported an increase over the same period in 2011.

However, the news isn’t all good, as industry sales performance was split. According to survey data from participating retailers, about 60% of independent retailers reported sales declines, but indie retailers who reported sales surges had very strong increases – mostly above 7%, with a strong percentage over 15%, as reported by CBA’s CROSS:SCAN sales data aggregated from more than 600 Christian stores.

“Christian stores are in a major transition. Retail success is being defined by two primary strategies: either competing on price or by creatively defining retail space in terms of engagement and relationship,” CBA President Curtis Riskey said.“The stores that reported sales increases are strong and connecting better with customers both through technology and compelling in-store experiences.

“They are adapting to selling e-books and deploying more digital marketing and customer interaction,” he said. “It’s not just about price.”

The 2013 report for 2012 performance marks first year CROSS:SCAN sales data has been used extensively in the CBA State of the Industry Report. The report shows top-selling products by category, author and title reports, gift and specialty best sellers, and product-category performance.

Black Friday sales in 2012 were very strong, up 22%, overturning a two-year slump of same-period declines. However, total Christmas-season sales were up only slightly (1.6%) for

Christian stores. Political grandstanding over the “fiscal cliff” federal budget talks and looming payroll-tax increases dampened Christmas season spending overall, according to retail economic analysts.

The lingering recession and jobless economic recovery is hurting Christian stores as a net loss of 39 outlets was reported in 2012, up from 22 in 2011, but down from 63 net store closings in 2010.

Retailers are moving into the digital age. Not only did Christian stores begin selling e-books in 2012, but they also reported they are moving more strongly into digital marketing. Social media, e-mail, and digital advertising were in retailers’ marketing toolboxes in 2012, with additional digital marketing forecasted for this year.

According to CROSS:SCAN data, books and Bibles remained the top categories for Christian stores, and backlist titles offered strong sales throughout the year. New gift-and-specialty product reporting offered insights into price points and sales. Low-price products dominated the category in units and dollars, mostly in church supplies and novelties. However, strong demand was seen in the $10-$20 price-point range and in the $45-$60 price-point range at suggested retail pricing. DVD sales also increased significantly from 2010 to 2012, up 24.1% in units and 17.9% in dollar sales at suggested retail price.

An expanded Future Trends section in the report looks at not only what Christian-store retailers are projecting, but also a summary of broader retail trends that will affect retailing overall. Generally, indie retailers’ expectations are tempered with about 81% saying 2013 sales will be the same or better, with an overall average sales increase projected at 2.1%. The number of retailers who said they would sell or close their store this year was down by more than half for each option.

Two report sections explore ideas submitted by retailers that represented their most-effective actions and strategies in 2012 for business and for ministry.

The 2013 State of the Industry Report, usually published in March, was delayed by technical development of new CROSS:SCAN reporting tools and internal changes. The next report is scheduled for March 2014 release.

The report is free to survey participants and is available for purchase.

For details, visit:

CBA, the Association for Christian Retail

CBA is the leading association for providers of Christian products to reach all people. It supplies vital connections, information, education and encouragement to Christian resource providers. The industry represents more than $5 billion in estimated annual Christian product and resources sales.