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Sales Surge at Christian Bookstores Masks Mixed Results

Report finds overall industry doing well, but most stores not so much.

This year's health report of Christian bookstores finds noteworthy changes in industry sales, Black Friday vs. Christmas performance, and just how many stores expect to close next year.

Six in 10 of the 1,100 stores belonging to the Association for Christian Retail (CBA) lost sales last year. Yet high performers gave the industry a nearly 9 percent sales increase overall.

One of the biggest boosts was Black Friday shopping, according to the data in CBA's annual State of the Industry report. "Black Friday sales recovered 22 percent, though Christmas sales were up only 1.6 percent" over 2011, reports Publishers Weekly.

CBA president Curtis Riskey says the positive results are largely the result of stores "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."

Yet 39 stores were forced to close last year–17 more than in 2011, though 24 less than in 2010. However, PW notes "the number of retailers reporting they would sell or close their stores in 2013 was down by half from 2012, from 7.7 percent to 2.5 percent."

CT has examined how to save the Christian bookstore (stop making it so religious, perhaps?), and noted how Christian publishers are searching for the next big thing. CT also reported how more and more churches are getting into the book business.

More recently, CT reported that Family Christian Stores, the largest chain of Christian retail stores in America, sold and then re-purchased itself in a plan to donate all profits to widows and orphans. Meanwhile, a publisher closed all its stores in order to focus on online sales.

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Posted:June 18, 2013 at 12:41PM
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