Tuesday 26 May, 2020

Crafts Council launch new industry report: The Market for Craft


The Goldsmiths' Company is proud to be supporting the first major report to identify and gauge appetite for British craft for over a decade. Results will help drive market demand and inform an action plan for the economic recovery of the craft sector, post Covid-19.

The Market for Craft report reveals that 73% of UK adults had bought craft in 2019 – snapping up almost 25m handcrafted objects. In a significant shift, almost a third (32%) of today’s buyers are aged under 35 – making this demographic the biggest buyer of craft today.  

10.3m Brits are buying craft online - a figure that has more than tripled over the last decade.  However, the report also showed that the majority of British adults still prefer to buy objects in-person.  

The report also shines light on the US market for craft - 2.5m people in New York and 1.7m in Los Angeles have purchased craft from a UK based maker. But this represents only 23% penetration of an existing market of craft buyers with an appetite to buy more – 10.5m people (40%) would consider doing so.

The report was carried out by the Crafts Council, the Goldsmiths' Company and seven leading national partners among 5,000 UK residents, 1,500 US citizens and 1,700 professional makers.

Undertaken before the Covid-19 pandemic, the findings were thrown into sharp relief by a subsequent Crafts Council survey of nearly 600 UK-based makers, highlighting the challenges to businesses during lockdown. The findings are informing crafts sector advocacy with government and industry bodies to support the recovery of a creative sector which generated over £3 billion in sales for our economy in 2020. 

The report shows that:

  • The under 35 year-old craft-buying market has grown by 32% since 2006
  • Online platforms have fuelled much of this growth: in December 2018, Etsy reported that there were 220,000 active sellers in the UK with a further 9,000 makers on Folksy. 10.3m of us are now buying craft online - a figure that has more than tripled over the last decade.  However, the majority still prefer to buy in-person
  • Jewellery is the most popular craft discipline to purchase by volume (7.3m objects). But glass and metal have seen the most sizeable growth, the market for each increasing more than five-fold since 2006. 
  • British craft sales increased from £883m in 2006 to over £3 billion in 2020 

The maturing of the craft market in the UK can be attributed to a number of wider trends that are likely to accelerate as a result of the pandemic. The rise of e-commerce, the favouring of investment purchases over throwaway objects and an interest in sustainability and supporting small business all underline the consumer appeal of craft and the making sector to brands and sectors of influence such as retail and property.

The research is a rich resource for the craft sector to deepen their understanding of consumers, what, how and why they buy craft. With a quarter of makers already facing a negative impact of Brexit on their business, many makers will be in a precarious situation in a post-pandemic world – losing not only their opportunities to sell their work, but also on their other sources of income – be that teaching, workshops or hospitality jobs. 

The craft economy was growing at a significant rate. The joint findings will be utilised by the Crafts Council to lobby the government and industry bodies to support the recovery of the craft sector.

The full report can be downloaded here

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