• Agatha Kempf

A Silent But Important Growth in The Craft Market

Updated: May 14, 2021

By Agatha Kempf

For over 15 years, the craft market has known an important growth, reaching £3 billion of sales revenue in 2020. Social media being a great key of it, the crafts have been made more accessible for a wider audience than before.

Kimono from Red Squirrel Store. Image by www.redsquirrel.store

Over the past year, it has been noticeable that more and more independent businesses, especially in the field of crafts, have become more popular over social media. From teenagers making jewellery in their bedroom, to working people pursuing their dream of launching a pottery business, social media has been a huge help for the boom of that movement.

But this is only a glimpse of the not so recent growth of the crafts market: in England, the number of people buying craft went from 6.9 million in 2006 to 31.6 million in 2020, getting the sector to enter the mainstream market.

That increase generated a whoping £3 billion in 2019 compared to the £883 million in 2006 in the total sales value despite a decrease in the average price per object sold.

Interview with Elspeth Dilley about people's purchases of craft.

Elspeth Dilley, 51, started her craft business Red Squirrel Store in 2017. She recently noticed that smaller objects became more popular: "Since we've emerged from pandemic lockdown, people are having to be very cautious financially so I would make smaller sales. But in better times, I would be selling my dressing gowns, sheepskin slippers and things like that, which are mid price, but genuinely useful.”

Workshop and crafted items of the Red Squirrel Store. Images by Elspeth Dilley

In regards to buyers, tendencies show there has been an increase in younger buyers with less specialist knowledge: in 2006, 1.1 million of buyers were under 35 compared to the 9.1 million in 2020. With the market becoming more mainstream and social media making it more accessible, entering the world of crafts has been facilitated for the younger generations.

Alexandra Agoshkova, 23, film producer, says she enjoys purchasing crafted items: “It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know where and how exactly the product is made. Plus supporting small and local businesses makes me feel more connected to my community and being a part of the local economy, especially in these times.”

Times and context that inevitably affected the craft market: according to a Covid-19 impact survey by the Crafts Council in March 2020, 63% out of 600 craft makers were unable to continue making crafts because of studio closures and personal commitments.

Despite this being the biggest business impact for most makers, we can only hope the craft market can be rebuilt in a way to sustain both local and global economy, and allow more creatives to enter this fascinating niche of the arts.

Information found at The Market for Craft report by Crafts Council.