This category includes establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of luggage, trunks, and leather goods.
Luggage and Leather Goods Stores
There are 1,977 luggage and leather goods stores in the United States, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. The travel goods industry, of which luggage retailers are a major sector, was worth about $4 billion in 2004, approximately half of which was attributed to luggage. The luggage sector rebounded after dismal numbers in the early 2000s, to increase more than 15 percent from 2003 to 2004.
Luggage and leather goods stores, combined with jewelry stores, employed more than 170,000 people in 2003. The industry leader, Wilsons Leather, employed 4,150 people and reported 2005 sales of $441.1 million. As specialty retailers, all of these businesses carried narrow product lines but many offered deep selection within those lines. Often, luggage and leather goods stores specialized in either leather apparel or gift items. Many of these stores were located in discount malls and airports. In the mid-2000s, Wilsons operated 330 mall stores, 110 outlets, and 15 airport stores, as well as more than 200 temporary locations during holiday seasons.
The industry is served by the National Luggage Dealers Association. Founded in 1925, this trade association continues to represent retailers of luggage and leather goods around the country. The association's primary function is to produce promotional material and relevant industry information for its members. Through the efforts of both this organization and the leather producers, the retail luggage and leather goods industry is well organized on a national level, staying in constant contact with the leather producers and manufacturers.
Retailers maintain close relationships with the leather producers to gain a better understanding of customers' desires. Often, the producers hire fashion experts to advise retailers in future fashion trends in leather. The leather producers also provide promotional material and samples to retailers well before the leather articles are available to the public.
During the late 1990s, luggage and leather goods stores faced a challenging business environment. Although people traditionally viewed fine leather as a luxury, the 1990's consumer placed a premium on value. Therefore, in an effort to remain competitive, industry leaders focused on providing customers...