The Christian Retail Association (CRA), led by Bob Munce, owner of the Munce Marketing Group, surveyed member retailers to see how the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting their stores. With a total of 223 store responses, the survey offers a look at the biggest challenges booksellers are facing, including a number of mandatory store closures, cut hours, and layoffs, as well as the ways retailers are surviving.
According to the survey, 167 stores closed due to being deemed non-essential, with 63 of these having to stay completely out of their stores. Of the bookstores that can operate in a limited fashion, 73% said they are offering curbside pickup, 45% have limited hours, and 38% are making home deliveries.
Even with taking unusual steps to generate sales, 171 store owners reported steep sales declines in both March and April, with April sales down about 97% from April 2019.
The survey reached stores that have a total of 1,043 employees. Of those, 589 were furloughed, while only six employees were permanently let go. A total of 76 stores cut hours, but maintained a staff.
While virtual author events are increasingly more common across the book industry, Christian bookstores are also looking to online gatherings to boost sales. Many have hosted online children’s book readings and other Facebook live events. Additionally, Christian retailers are maintaining communication with customers via social media, with an especially high number of Facebook interactions followed by Instagram.
Stores are already planning how they will reach out to customers when they reopen, with the majority electing Facebook has the main means of connecting.
One hundred and seventeen store owners said they had applied for some type of government assistance but only 44% said they had received a loan or other help.