International Christian Retail Show Replaces 55-Year CBA Convention

A new tradeshow for Christian retailers will debut at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on July 10, replacing the 55-year-old International Christian Booksellers Association convention.

Up to 11,000 people representing all 50 states and at least 55 countries will converge at the largest annual gathering of Christian retailers and product suppliers in the world.

“The International Christian Retail Show is the place where the industry comes together to work out the solutions, solve the problems, and identify the opportunities ahead,” said Bill Anderson, President and CEO of Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). “It is the event that drives the business of Christian retail.”

The convention's new name takes CBA out of the title, enlarging the emphasis to include all Christian retailers.

The International Christian Retail Show was created only after extensive input from retailers via surveys and interviews.

“It’s all about developing the aspiring Christian retailer, and how we can help them succeed in a rapidly changing market,” said Anderson.

Each word in the new name of the show was carefully chosen: “International” because of the world-wide scope and impact of the show, “Christian Retail” because that is what is center stage, and “Show” because it is designed to be a memorable experience in which retailers have the opportunity to see, touch, and feel what is new.

"We want to make it clear that this event is not about an organization but that it is about and for the Christian retailer," said Anderson.

The show, which is not open to the general public, will feature Christian books, music, and gifts from over 410 different companies in 1,202 booth spaces, including 89 first-time exhibitors. The ribbon will be cut to officially open the convention at 10 a.m. Monday, July 10.

Throughout the five-day event, representatives will hear from best-selling authors, Max Lucado, Stormie Omartian, and Jerry Jenkins, as well as listen to well-known recording artists, Michael W. Smith, Bart Millard, and Casting Crowns.

The show’s theme this year is “Success in Store,” to help retailers find ideas and translate them into success, according to Anderson.

The show will address five critical issues facing the Christian retail channel: trust, traffic, efficiencies & systems, passion for excellence, and profitability & capitalization.

Industry specialists will discuss how the habits and attitudes of Christian consumers have changed, and how retailers can draw today's Christians into the retail store.

Sales of Christian products rose from $4.2 in 2002 to $4.34 billion, according to the new Size of the Industry study conducted by CBA.

The study found that while the Christian retail channel continues to serve the lion's share of the market at 53 percent, the general market channels have increased their market share in recent years. The Christian retail channel managed to slow the drop from 5 percent between 2000 and 2002 to 3.5 percent between 2002 and 2004.

Anderson noted, "We’ve stemmed the tide, but we still have to be more aggressive in competing for market share.”

“The good news is that demand for what we sell continues to grow, he said, but "outperforming our competition to better serve the customer" is the goal.

Colorado Springs-based CBA is the trade association for the Christian retail channel, serving 2206 member Christian stores and over 1,000 Christian stores and suppliers in over 50 countries around the world.