Good news for the fitness and outdoor industries recently came from the Sporting Goods Manufacturer’s Association. The organization released results from its wholesale study report, which showed people are starting to spend more in the exercise equipment and athletic footwear categories.
According to the results, exercise equipment sales increased 3.4 percent, up to $4.49 billion from $4.34 billion in 2010. The star of the sales show was the treadmill, which accounted for 25.5 percent of the entire category. Following close behind were ellipticals and exercise cycles.
“For the most part, sales in the sports and fitness industry continue to be a mirror image of the U.S. economy,” said SGMA President Tom Cove in a news release. “As the economy begins to improve, Americans are more likely to spend more money on fitness equipment, sports gear, athletic clothing, and footwear. “
Michael Francis, owner of Fitnesscape in Murfreesboro, Tenn., agreed with that sentiment, and said he notices an uptick in his sales when the stock market is up.
“It does follow the economy,” Francis said, but added that schools, government organizations and other businesses are steady in their purchasing of exercise equipment.
This year, Francis said, is a bit better than last year in terms of his store’s sales, but said there's still hesitance from consumers to spend on exercise equipment.
“People are reluctant to buy anything because we don’t sell department store or sporting goods store type of stuff,” Francis said. “We sell fitness specialty items that are at a higher price point and people don’t really have a lot of money, I believe.”
The report also noted that consumer/retail spending accounted for 75 percent of the entire exercise equipment category.
Other bright spots in the report include active apparel and footwear. The biggest seller in the footwear category was running shoes, with sales increasing 7.6 percent to $3.89 billion. Outdoor and adventure footwear wasn’t too far behind, though, with sales increasing 6.1 percent to $640 million.
Fitness and outdoor recreation remain strong in the United States, according to the SGMA, and retailers have permission to continue to be optimistic.
“Overall, sports participation remains strong and solid in the U.S. though there is room for growth,” Cove said in a release. “We remain optimistic that 2012 will be a significant year of change for the sports industry as people are posed to be more active, play more and, hopefully, increase their spending on sports and fitness items.”