Why the maternity market is an ideal way for brick-and-mortar stores to bump up sales.
Great Exp ANT TO COMPETE against online merchants? Bumping up one’s maternity selection and service might be just the ticket. For starters, the segment is a BIG business and, like any newborn, is only expected to keep growing. In fact, maternity sales have been on quite a growth spurt of late—up nearly 200 percent since 2014, with more than 75 percent focused in clothing and accessories. Current industry estimates peg the category at $2 billion in the U.S., serving more than 6 million pregnant women each year. What’s more, it’s expected to grow to $7 billion by 2023. What’s fueling this boom? Well, it’s not more babies as fertility rates are projected to continue to decline. Rather, experts point to women waiting longer to start families, which in turn means more disposable income for pregnancy pampering and quality purchases. In addition, women are better informed than ever and want to buy what’s best for their child. Lastly, there’s just so much more stuff to buy. That’s where one-stop-shopping retailers come in backed by expert service. “Women are already overwhelmed with being pregnant, so it’s our job to make it easy for them to shop all in one place,” says Brenda Cornwell, owner of Mom & Me Boutique in Virginia Beach, VA. In addition to all the necessities, Cornwell’s maternity section includes modern-day indulgences like belly casting as well as product exclusives. “When new or expecting moms walk in, they don’t know about what they haven’t read in a book,” she says. “My staff covers the rest—it takes a fellow mom to explain what’s really going on.” Emily Kammerer of Laura Belle Boutique in Farmington, MO, agrees, adding that personal experience from knowledgeable sales associates can be more persuasive than tech sheets. With that, Kammerer only stocks products that she or other moms she knows have used. “Anything I carry in my store has been approved by someone I know,” she says. “I won’t buy anything I don’t know works firsthand because moms need to trust us. Personal stories make all the difference.”
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