South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

BBC article highlights the success of museum shops amid the 'High Street slump'

Two women choosing cakes from a museum cafe counter

The BBC has recently reported on museum and gallery shops bucking the downturn in retail. The article highlighted that those shops "attract shoppers looking for presents with a cultural touch, or something different to the wares of a homogeneous High Street. Some 52% of adults go to a museum each year, some are visiting these venues specifically for the shops."

Kevin Ward, Museum Development Director, Museum in the Park (South West Fed member), said: "The Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire has seen an upturn in shop sales over the last year or so. In addition to increased visitors, we’ve also put this down to introducing new shop lines, with more local or own branded products. Alongside this we’ve given the shop a modern look with the help of two grants from South West Museums Development Programme’s Small Grant Big Improvement scheme."

The location of museum always plays a part, we are not in a high street and so most visitors set out to visit us, rather than passing-by. However, for some visitors our shop become a destination in its own right. Stocking products made locally has also improved our relationship (and extended our engagement) with artists and makers. We feel our new shop better represents our vision and ethos."

Jill Fenwick, Managing Director, Association for Cultural Enterprises, told the BBC: "Over the last decade, our members have seen a real change in the way that people visiting cultural and heritage attractions are shopping at the stores, giving the general High Street a run for their money as shoppers are seeking out a more meaningful, and perhaps even ethically sourced item"

The BBC article also stated that shops and cafés have become vital to museums that face central and local government funding cuts, with visitors with expendable income often coming through the doors which isn't always the case with city and town centre shops.

You can read the BBC article by clicking here.

Since you're here...

The South West Fed Conference 2019 'Inspiring Audiences: Home and Away' takes place on 4 & 5 July in Plymouth. Why not join us? Find out more by clicking here.