Editor’s Letter: Power to Specialty Stores

Specialty retailing is Crimson Laurel Gallery’s stock in trade. Photo Credit: John Warner
Specialty retailing is Crimson Laurel Gallery’s stock in trade. Photo Credit: John Warner

It’s the day before Thanksgiving as I write this, and thanks to revisions in NICHE magazine’s publishing schedule and the Buyers Market of American Craft’s new January winter show dates, it’s the first time ever that I’ve been able to wish all our readers a successful holiday selling season just as it kicks into gear.

For many retailers, December is make-or-break time, and as we already reported in our Summer issue, really smart gallery owners will start making advance plans for next year’s biggest shopping season this year on Dec. 26.

How much planning you do for your own business varies, of course, according to your gallery’s size, available staff and the special holiday events you regularly schedule or host, but it never hurts to do a chunk of it well in advance of Black Friday.

Artisans Gallery has added a kids section, complete with play area as well as items for sale.
Artisans Gallery has added a kids section, complete with play area as well as items for sale.

The really good news coming out of the business community is that shoppers are moving back to bricks and mortar, particularly the smaller, specialized, one-on-one customer service-oriented establishments that craft gallery owners excel at providing. According to a new study by the global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, consumers “value the retail store experience on multiple levels and continue to make the vast majority of their purchases in stores.”

The study, titled “Recasting the Retail Store in Today’s Omnichannel World,” surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in the U.S. and U.K. to understand how and why customers use different channels at each stage of the shopping process. It found that consumers spent the majority of their time shopping in stores (61%), followed by online (31%), catalog (4%) and mobile (4%). The physical store is the channel of choice across all ages (from Millennials to senior citizens) and household income levels (from less than $25,000 to more than $100,000 per year).

Better yet, the study found that 40% of consumers spend more money than they had planned in stores, while only 25% reported online impulse shopping.

Good news all around, I’d say.

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