[This article is an excerpt from the “From the Glass” column featured in the November/December 2017 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Join the American Homebrewers Association to subscribe to Zymurgy and gain access to the archives.]
If I haven’t told you this recently, I really appreciate your membership to the American Homebrewers Association! There’s more to the AHA than Zymurgy magazine, AHA Member Deals, our events, and all of the great benefits the AHA offers to members. Your membership dollars help ensure the AHA, an association proud to advocate on behalf of homebrewers worldwide, will be around for the long haul.
You may not be aware that the AHA conducts both an annual survey and four quarterly surveys of homebrew supply shops. We do this to help us track the health of the hobby and to help shops understand the market. No one else is doing this kind of work.
Following annual declines in gross revenue of two percent in 2015 and one percent in 2016, our data for the first half of 2017 show that shops in general saw modest declines in gross revenue of 3.4 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively, for the first and second quarters relative to 2016 revenue. When looking just at brick-and-mortar stores (i.e. not primarily online businesses) that have been open five or more years, the picture is somewhat worse, with declines of 6.1 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively, for the first and second quarters of 2017, meaning that online retailers and newer brick-and-mortar stores are faring better than long-established brick-and-mortar stores.
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At the individual shop level, there could be a wide range of reasons for sales performance, but generally speaking, fewer customers are buying from homebrew supply shops, existing customers are purchasing less, or some combination of both is responsible for the declines in revenue.
I think of the local homebrew supply shop as the focal point of the local homebrewing community. Those shops play a critical role in keeping our hobby alive and introducing new people in our communities to homebrewing. If you have a shop in your area, consider the impact on the homebrewers there if your local shop were to close. We’ve seen a number of shops close over the past couple of years, so the threat is real. With that, I ask you all to please support your local homebrew supply shop!
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Gary Glass is director of the American Homebrewers Association.