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SFIA Analyzes Holiday Shopping Scene for Sports & Fitness Industry

Date: 11/21/12

SILVER SPRING, MD – November 21, 2012 – Vendors and retailers in the sports and fitness industry should expect sales this holiday season to be solid and possibly strong.  And the future is looking even better.  That was the theme of a webinar hosted yesterday by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) where two industry experts discussed consumer purchase intentions for this year’s holiday season.

During the 30-minute presentation, Neil Schwartz (Director of Research and Business Development – SFIA Research) and Sam Poser (Senior Research Analyst – Sterne Agee) provided their thoughts on the topic of the “2012 Holiday Shopping Outlook.”

The foundation for the joint presentation was the recently released data from the Q3-2012 Pulse Report.

According to Schwartz, the first factor that he looks at is sports and fitness participation. 

“If people plan to play, exercise and travel more for sports, then it points to good things for the industry,” noted Schwartz.  “As participation goes up, so does demand for sports apparel, athletic footwear, and equipment.”

The results of the Q3-2012 Pulse Report indicate that 79% of consumers are either more active now or the same as they have been in recent years.  Though, this same study shows that, in the immediate future, 91% of consumers plan to be either more active or the same as they been in recent years. 

“This uptick in activity means spending on sports and fitness items should increase which is great news for sports and fitness industry,” said Schwartz.  “We see nice increases in sales on the horizon.  Current and future industry confidence levels are up.”

“While people always tend to be optimistic that they will exercise and play more sports, sometimes we don’t see this actually happening.  In this edition of the Pulse, the increase in participation is higher than it has been in the past.  This uptick in activity means spending on sports and fitness items should increase which is great news for the sports and fitness industry,” said Schwartz.  “We see nice increases in sales on the horizon.  Current and future industry confidence levels are up.” 

One caveat here that has to be mentioned is that things could change rather quickly if Congress cannot reach an agreement with the pending ‘Fiscal Cliff.’  Plus, there is also a great deal of uncertainty with the situation reaching a boiling point in the Middle East.  Those outside factors can definitely influence what people do with their discretionary funds and free time.

One of the big factors influencing this optimistic attitude is that spending in the third quarter is higher than it was in the second quarter in all three major categories – sports apparel, athletic footwear, and sporting goods equipment.  Such a strong, positive trend has never surfaced during the year-long existence of the Pulse Report.

Schwartz predicted that sales of athletic footwear and sports apparel should increase by a high single digit or low double digit percentage. 

“I see lots of activity in athletic footwear where there’s lots of newness,” observed Schwartz.

He said that sales of equipment and hard lines should rise by a high single digit percentage.  Because of the annual early January interest in fitness equipment, Schwartz sees sales in fitness equipment having a delayed surge.

Schwartz revealed that the surge in participation (and the sales which will follow) can largely be attributed to one demographic.

“Growth in participation is taking place among Generation Y or the ‘Millenials,’ the people in their early 20s to early 30s,” said Schwartz.

During Poser’s presentation, he said people are always ready to spend money, even in tough financial times.

“If you have it right, people will buy,” said Poser.

He made specific references to the Jordan line of basketball shoes by Nike and previous versions of iPhones by Apple.  Poser recalled seeing long lines of people ready to purchase those items during tough financial times.

One company that has done well in recent years, especially during the holidays, is Amazon. 

“Amazon has done well because of its no-tax policy,” said Poser.  “The big Amazon advantage may be going away as more states vote to start charging sales tax on online purchases to try and level the playing field with the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.”

As for the ‘big picture’ issue of mergers and buyouts, he doesn’t see that trend coming to a complete halt.
“Everything is for sale and if the price is right, it will sell,” noted Poser.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, public policy, and member services. More information can be found at www.sfia.org.

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