The results of a quilting trends survey were presented yesterday by Mark Hyland, CEO of Premier Needle Arts.
Every three years since 2009 the quilting industry has conducted a survey assessing the size of the market and new trends in consumer behavior. The survey was called Quilting in America and was funded by F+W media. Findings were presented at the premier Schoolhouse at Quilt Market and a one-page summary was made available online (Download 2014 and 2017 survey results).
The survey data announced yesterday was funded by Premier Needle Arts, the parent company of Handi Quilter, Superior Threads, Pro Stitcher, Quilt Pro Systems, Connecting Threads, Knit Picks, and WeCrochet. Hyland explains that this is an annual survey the company conducts and is less detailed and has less analysis than the Quilting in America survey. Hyland said the survey data was only being presented in webinar format only due to how costly it was to conduct. “The survey costs between $200,000 and $250,000,” he noted. “The data will not be available to download.” There will be a one-page overview of the information coming sometime in the next 6-8 weeks.
A graph showing the size of the industry.
Employment of quilters.
This year’s survey consisted of 140 questions and took approximately 40 minutes for respondents to complete. It was sent out via email in late January and early February 2020 to nearly 1 million quilters, 98% of whom were located in North America. 20,000 responses came in, and there was an 83% completion rate. The quilters surveyed were from the consumer email lists of leading quilting brands (these brands were not specified in the presentation) along with Golden Peak Media’s consumer list (Love of Quilting, McCalls, and QuiltMaker).
Hyland didn’t provide any details regarding the breakdown of the race, ethnicity, or demographics of the quilters surveyed. Hyland explained in an email that this data was not provided because “they were not predictors or indicators of quilter’s behavior or habits.”
A second supplemental survey was conducted May 26-31 to gather data specific to the pandemic.
Third-party data analytic experts from Emperitas, a business intelligence and data science firm, validated the questions to remove bias and assisted in analyzing the data. Other industry market data was also provided by Ernest & Young.
Size of the market
The estimated size of the quilting market is $4.2 billion, up slightly from $4.1 billion in 2018 and $3.8 billion in 2014. North America has between 9-11 million quilters, a number that’s been stable (between 8-12 million) over the last decade. 98% of quilting consumers are female and 65% are retired. Between 2020 and 2024 the population will see a 2% annual growth of females at retirement age which leads to an anticipated corollary growth in the quilting market. The age band in which quilters started quilting more actively was in their mid-40s.
Consumers say they quilt in order to relax, relieve stress, be creative, and connect with family and friends through gift-giving.
How purchasing habits have changed.
Top sources for quilting information.
The average quilter
The average quilter is a retired woman in her 60’s with a household income of $74,000. 19% have full-time jobs and are working longer into their retirement years. The average quilter feels she’s at an intermediate level at making and finishing quilt tops and has been quilting for more than a decade. She starts 8-10 quilts a year and works on project 6-10 hours a week (up from 5 hours per week in 2017). The average quilter owns 4 different types of sewing machines.
According to the study, participation in quilting guilds is beginning to decline. (Granular statistics on this topic were not provided.)
The average quilter learns about quilting from friends and online. She finds product ideas through video tutorials and gets inspiration and motivation through free video tutorials, quilt shows, magazines, and local retailers. She’s spending more time online looking at quilting-related media than she did a few years ago. About 46% of quilters are now searching online for quilting products and education every day. Another 29% are searching online weekly. 33% of respondents said they are searching and shopping more online now than they used to.
Quilters’ top source for quilt-related information is websites and blogs (19%), with magazines and newspapers coming in second (14.1%), and YouTube coming in third (13%). Trusted retailers were only 5.4%. The top places for quilters to seek out education are YouTube and classes at local shops.
Other hobbies quilters enjoy include gardening, reading, knitting, crochet, embroidery, cooking, baking, and painting.
Where quilters prefer to shop in 2020 (top 2 choices).
What most influences purchasing supplies.
Type of quilts
Modern quilts have grown in popularity since 2017 when they were under 10% of the type of quilts most often created. They’re now closer to 15%. Traditional quilts have also grown in popularity. In 2017 they were about 40% and in 2020 they are closer to 58%.
Unsurprisingly, fabric continues to be the most sought after product category for quilters. 41.1% of respondents said they are consuming more of their stash than buying. About 66% of respondents said they prefer to buy fabric and thread from an independent quilt shop (holding steady from 2017), while 57% said they preferred to shop online (up from 51% in 2017). Prior to COVID, attendance at consumer shows was up.
In the follow-up survey conducted May 26-31, 27,000 quilters answered questions about their feelings and behaviors in the pandemic environment. 92% of respondents said that quilting was filling about the same, a little more, or much more time in their lives now than it had in a pre-COVID environment. 51% of those quilters said they didn’t feel comfortable gathering at a large event. According to the survey, show attendance will be down 40-50% through the rest of 2020.