One of Israel’s most notable export is Judaica, also known as Jewish ceremonial art. Well, maybe not in terms of numbers, but in terms of quality and emotional connection to the Jewish homeland, Israel undeniably the home for the best Judaica. Which is why people like to buy products made in Israel. So what are some trends we see happening for Judaica in the world of commerce for 2020? For the past 10 years, I have been working in the industry in some way… and it’s an exciting one to watch!
I predict 3 trends for 2020 when it comes to Judaica:
- More In-Person Stores Close – Citing shifts in consumer habits, Judaica stores have been closing. I think that this will be a trend that continues into 2020. As more stores close, expect the number of online retailers to increase. One such Judaica website looks more like an in-person store than the usual look of online Judaica stores. I think with the closing of more in-person stores we can expect online Judaica shops to stock more items typically found in-store. And as the owner of the Manhattan store that closed mentioned, it’s also buying habits that affect retail traffic. One example, one could argue, would be that observant people use the Internet more today than in the past. And since Judaica stores are created to meet religious needs, as this audience’s participation in online shopping grew the in-person stores naturally declined. The closing of stores does not mean the end of Judaica, rather a shift to an online model.
- High-End Retailers Become Wholesalers – Designer Judaica items of high value are finding their way onto the shelves of fine retailers. You can find Michael Aram at Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus. As luxury Judaica makers find themselves looking for solutions (have their own site, work with wholesalers…) higher-end department stores might jump in and grab a share of the Judaica marketplace. And why wouldn’t mainstream stores carry Judaica when they carry items for Christmas as well? As acceptance of others grow, perhaps it has made a place on the shelf for high-end department stores to expand into the luxury Judaica marketplace. One of the more exciting parts of this is as Jewish and Judaica items get into large stores, they can be a part of wedding registries that couples in the US tend to do. One challenge of online retailers for Judaica has been incorporating into the wedding gift registries of marrying couples. Perhaps, for those Jewish couples considering registering at a department store carrying Judaica, there are new opportunities to increase their relationship with Jewish traditions. Jewish couples who would like to add some Judaica items here are there on their wedding registry can. It’s great to see Judaica in new places.
- Designers Innovate – Whether it’s a local producer or a foreign counterfeiter, artists are fed up with people copying their designs. With technology today, anyone looking to copy a design, edit it slightly, then resell it can. Sometimes people just use a picture of the artwork, then send something else. Whatever the case be, artists looking to charge premium prices will continue to command top prices for new designs. The thing that people can’t copy is innovation, which is really what artists are selling. Will we see designers come up with limited signed editions for premium prices? What will they come up with to innovate in the exciting field of Judaica design? As more people learn about fake Judaica, they will be aware and choose to buy from designers directly or large retailers/wholesalers.
The changes in the Judaica market for 2020 will be exciting to watch. Whether it’s the way business is done or the way new designs come to market, it’s not yet clear where this year will go.