Sales of Christian products increased to $4.6 billion last year, according to reports by the major trade association for Christian retailing.
The $4.63 billion in 2006 sales, through a range of religious and secular distribution channels, is up from $4.3 billion in 2004, $4.2 billion in 2002 and $4 billion in 2000, reports CBA, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based trade association.
CBA, formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association, has a membership of more than 2,000 Christian stores, including national and regional chains, church-owned stores and independent retailers.
A new CBA study shows that 52 percent of Christian products are sold by Christian retailers while general market retailers — including stores such as Wal-Mart and Borders — sold 33 percent. The remaining 15 percent of sales including direct-to consumer and non-profit ministry sales.
“Christian retail is the supplier’s best partner — historically, in the immediate and long-term,” CBA President Bill Anderson said in a statement. “This channel sells more Christian products than all the other channels combined.”
But the Christian market, along with other retailers, is grappling with new ways consumers make their purchases. The International Christian Retail Show, which began Sunday in Atlanta and ends Thursday, includes sessions to address such issues as customer loyalty and “the next generation of Christian consumers.”
Anderson said some Christian retailers are struggling while others are opening new stores.
“Christian retailers have had to respond to increased competition, challenges to traffic and price wars,” he said. “And while we have lost some stores in the process, some of the smartest, most savvy retailers have not only survived, but have been improved by the challenges of recent years. They’ve been through a lot and are better retailers for it.”
By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service