Christian retailers are adding marketing strategies and events in an effort to sharpen their focus in connecting with local churches, according to CBA's annual State of the Industry survey.
The 2011 anonymous survey—based on 167 responses—found that more than 7% stores said they plan to host a pastor's event this year. Additionally, the number of retailers who hosted a pastor's event in 2010 increased about 4% compared to 2009. A higher percentage of retailers (33.7%) also had a church-relations strategy last year, CBA said.
"In the church relationship, it must be about understanding a pastor's needs and coming alongside in mission for the people you both serve," CBA Executive Director Curtis Riskey said. "A good question to dialogue with a group of pastors is, 'How can we win this city for Jesus? How can we collectively leverage what we have been entrusted with to change this community?' Just being a product supplier doesn't work anymore."
As it was in last year's survey, 82% of respondents expect sales in 2011 to be the same or better than 2010, the trade association said. Meanwhile, 8.4% of respondents plan to expand this year, and 10.8% expect to increase store hours.
The report indicates that the rate of store closures increased last year with a net loss of 63 stores compared to 32 stores closing in 2009 and 37 stores shuttering in 2008. There are 14 new stores opening in 2010, and the average length of time in business for stores decreased slightly to approximately 20 years.
Just like last year's survey, average sales dropped just over 3% in 2010, though more than 30% of stores reported sales growth. Community and church-relations events such as Christian Store Day as well as strategies involving social media and bargain discounting contributed to positive store growth, the association said.
CBA made public only brief details of the report—which is available in full free to member retailers who participated; for $39 to member retailers who did not take part; and for $59 for non-member retailers who participated.
The document is also available for $79 to CBA-member suppliers. It is not available to non-member retailers who did not take part in the survey, nor to non-member suppliers.