A Christian consumer survey conducted in January 2020 with over 2,600 responses found that 48% of respondents said they shop (or would shop if they had one) at their local bookstore for faith-based content. Only 11% of respondents reported that they would not shop in-store.
The Parable Group compiled data from analysis of $66 million in Christian product sales, 2.1 million consumer receipts, and survey results from retailers and publishers in their recent 2020 State of Christian Retailing. During a time when the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that sales in bookstores declined 5.7% in 2019 from sales in 2018, the Parable Group found less discouraging data from Christian bookstores.
The Parable study found that same store sales were only down by 2.5% in 2019 over 2018. That is encouraging news for Christian bookstores when compared to the bookstore market overall.
Three other significant findings in this report may surprise you.
1. Books are the leading sales for Christian retail, making up one-third of all in-store sales.
2. Half of all Christian book sales come from three categories: Christian Living, Devotionals, and Fiction
3. Hosting more store events is not a high priority for most Christian retail stores.
The Christian retail industry is a niche market. While there have been numerous store closures over the past few years, what remains is not dying.
The landscape is changing as Christian bookstores are now almost exclusively independently owned stores. In fact, 75% of Christian retail respondents in The Parable Group’s survey had a positive outlook for the future. One store stated, “We’re reaching new people and retaining current customers better than ever.”
If you are a Christian author and you have a Christian bookstore in your city, I suggest that you become a regular patron. Booksellers need our support. Bookstores help sell books. Whatever we can do as Christian authors to support Christian book sales impacts the Kingdom. If you are part of God’s Kingdom, then you reap the benefits.
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Photos courtesy of The Parable Group.