This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of cameras, film, and other photographic supplies and equipment. Establishments engaged primarily in the retail sale of video equipment are categorized in SIC 5731: Radio, Television, and Consumer Electronics Stores; and those primarily engaged in photo finishing are covered in SIC 7384: Photo Finishing Laboratories.
Camera and Photographic Supply Stores
The retail photographic supply industry has historically been competitive, even more so in recent years as establishments struggle to attract the 6 to 10 percent of U.S. households that purchase cameras and photography supplies at camera specialty stores. The vast majority of Americans purchase cameras through consumer electronic and computer stores, mass merchandisers, drug stores, and supermarkets. With the advent of digital cameras and camera phones in the early 2000s, department stores, mass merchandisers, and other electronic equipment stores have taken further market share from stores that specialize in camera and photographic supply. The 2,779 camera and photographic supply stores recorded by the U.S. Census in 2002 decreased to 2,462 in 2004.
The downturn in camera specialty stores coincides with the maturation of digital cameras, which are sold through many different Web and brick-and-mortar outlets. In 2003 U.S. sales of digital cameras surpassed those of traditional devices for the first time. Furthermore, in 2006 some 48 percent of all cell phones were camera-enabled, tripling the total recorded just two years earlier. Forecasters predict 80 percent of all cell phones will be camera-enabled by 2010.
Retailers had traditionally achieved profits by catering to a customer base of established and aspiring professional photographers. According to Michael St. Germain, a camera retail store owner and past president of the Digital Imaging Marketing Association, in 2005 retail camera and photo processing businesses were especially focusing on affluent consumers as the surest route to strong revenue growth and high profit margins. He also noted that 63 percent of camera store customers are women, 35 percent are men, and the rest are individuals representing businesses, civic groups, and municipal agencies.
During the mid-2000s, camera and photographic supply stores were holding a steady share of the digital camera retail sales market while...