Does retail have a new market in pro home hobbyists?
The pandemic has allowed a new demographic to go professional with their hobbies, according to a new UK study. If these crafters and makers keep up their careers, it could mean a new ongoing audience for retailers in related verticals to court and support.
A study by UK craft supplier LoveCrafts found that five percent of its survey respondents were moved to change careers and began selling their crafts full time during the pandemic, Retail Tech Innovation Hub reported. The craft supplier says that during the pandemic, thousands of independent crafters uploaded patterns to its platform. Edward Griffith, CEO and founder of LoveCrafts, says the era has been dubbed “the year of the hobby hustle,” and that the pandemic years have led to many figuring out how to monetize their crafts.
Mr. Griffith’s perspective is consistent with a New York Times article from June 2021 that reported on the phenomenon of pandemic hobbyists going professional. The article detailed anecdotes of hobbyists making thousands and tens of thousands of dollars selling items as disparate as homemade clothing, dollhouse furniture and home-bred crickets for reptile owners. A survey conducted by LendingTree discussed in the article found that half of the 600 respondents who had started a new hobby during the pandemic had turned it into a money-earning side gig.
In the early days of the pandemic, many throughout the U.S. and globally found themselves exploring new hobbies as lockdowns meant to stem the spread of the virus restricted an unprecedented number of people to their homes.
When government recommendations for the wearing of cloth masks went into effect, DIY home crafters discovered they could make money filling the need, and many small crafting businesses were born.
The phenomenon was pronounced enough that Etsy, an online marketplace for crafters that had long been waning in popularity, suddenly experienced a massive spike in traffic and stock price.
Etsy’s stock continues to perform well, most recently beating analyst expectations in its fourth quarter earnings report according to Investor’s Business Daily.
Ripples from the trend also breathed new life into craft-focused retailer Joann, which IPOed at $12 per share in 2021. Joann’s stock is currently trading slightly below its IPO price.
- LoveCrafts research: Covid-19 powers shift to DIY crafters and hobby hustle – Retail Tech Innovation Hub
- My Pandemic Hobby? Making Money. – The New York Times
- Etsy Stock Soars As Earnings Topple Estimates, Active Buyers Rise – Investor’s Business Daily
- Is Joann’s IPO success all sewn up thanks to the pandemic? – RetailWire
- Joann Inc – Yahoo Finance
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How likely is the demand for makers’ goods to remain strong as cases of COVID-19 ebb? Do you see crafts stores (Michaels, Joann, et al) and online platforms such as Etsy continuing to grow their businesses in this environment?