Consumer sports and fitness spending plans remain cautious, but show positive trend

Despite positive overall economic trends and Q1 growth in recreation, sports and fitness markets, consumers remain cautious. What will they be willing to buy and why?

A recent report has found that despite economic gurus touting the start of a recovery, most consumers remain cautious in their 2010 plans for spending, including on sports, recreation and fitness products.

Still, a trend began this year that indicates the market for activity-oriented products is looking better than others, per a new Leisure Trends report that summarized first quarter 2010 retail sales.

“The economy is showing life so far in 2010,” said Leisure Trends analyst Elisabeth Stahura, in a May 5 webinar. “It’s premature to assume we are out of the water,…but the outdoor and active markets tend to rebound before the general economy.”

A LeisureTrak report from the Boulder, Colo., research firm (, which surveyed participants in January 2010, found that more than half of consumers said they don’t plan to spend more on sports and fitness gear this year than they did in 2009, although the May 5 release of data showed positive gains for the first quarter for recreation categories. A full 55 percent said they will spend the same on equipment and services, although a few (20 percent) said they will spend more compared to a smaller group (16 percent) that said they will actually spend less.

Among those who said they will spend more are younger consumers, with 18- to 24-year-olds noting they planned to spend “much more” on sports and recreation than last year. But it’s the the 55- to 64-year-olds who will in the end spend more overall, or more than twice as much as the younger crowd.

When it comes to gender, men are willing to part with more cash when it comes to recreational gear: They reported they will spend twice as much in the next three months as women reported, per the LeisureTrak study.

Listening to friends

When it comes to the fitness and sports gear, consumers are willing to buy, another segment of the report found that the largest source of information comes from friends and family. They also rely on the Internet for research, including retailer and manufacturer websites.

But if you think you can sway them once they get in the store, you will have your work cut out for you. The report found that 44 percent had a brand in mind when they went out to buy and 88 percent of that group confirmed they did end up buying that brand in the end.

The bottom line is that managing your brand’s image from start to finish, as well as knowing its strengths and weaknesses, will help a company mold consumer perceptions and boost purchases.

For more information about LeisureTrak studies and retail sales reports, contact Leisure Trends at 303-786-7900.

--Therese Iknoian


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