Fitness: Did you hear?...

Fitness specialty retail in Phoenix area continues to grow, Lifestyle Fitness Equipment plans second store, Time Magazine publishes special report on fitness, study says 2004 online sales rose to $141.4 billion, plus much more...
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For the week of June 1-6

>> Fitness specialty retail in the Phoenix area is still growing: At Home Fitness is building out its second location in Chandler, Ariz., which already has its sign out and is even listed in the new area phone book AND has been fielding a handful of daily calls. Chandler, if you recall, is where the former Fitness Gallery had its headquarters in Ahwatukee. Everybody wants in: That's where Busy Body Home Fitness is putting in its new shop to be open soon, and it's near where the Precision Fitness store is. For At Home Fitness (www.athomefitness.net), just opened last November by Bryan Dorksen and Greg Feeder, a third store is already in the works too, we're told, with a planned opening by the fourth quarter. Not to be forgotten, Fitness4Home Superstore opened its second store in March also near the Ahwatukee area, according to owner Bob Lachniet, who first opened doors on his first store last November also. That outlet is about 8,000 square feet, of which nearly a quarter will become a sublet personal training studio and commercial showroom. Just a stone's throw away, Lachniet will open by late summer his new 8,500-square-foot warehouse of which nearly a third will be a sports-specific athletic training studio run by True Fitness consultant Chuck Howard. The training and retail arms of Fitness4Home will work arm-in-arm to refer and assess customers and build leads for both the retail and training sides. For more on the past developments and changes in that market, see SNEWS® story, Nov. 15, 2004, "Arizona specialty fitness market turns into all-comers event."

>> Lifestyle Fitness Equipment, opened last fall by Chip Hunnings and Bill Wagner and run by Bryant Stadler, plans to open its second store near The Arboretum in South Charlotte. The new location will be a cozy 2,100 square feet, but will warehouse its product at the first store, which has 5,500 square feet of warehouse space. Its grand opening is June 11. "This allowed us to utilize every inch of space for flooring," Stadler told SNEWS®. "Believe it or not, the way the floor plan is designed, it gives a much larger feel, thus allowing us to floor plenty of cardio and strength equipment."

>> The "2005 IHRSA Global Report" -- its annual report on the state of the health club industry -- estimates there are currently 85 million health club members worldwide. That’s a jump of 5.6 million in one year (See SNEWS® story, Sept. 27, 2004, "IHRSA membership growth initiative: To 50 million…and beyond") and well on its way to meet IHRSA's goal of 100 million members by the year 2010. In five years, membership has increased by 26 million -- up an average of 7 percent a year during that period. IHRSA estimates that it would take less than 4 percent average annual growth for the industry to reach its goal. The report also estimates that there are more than 82,000 clubs worldwide, which generated in excess of $39 billion in revenue last year. The publication provides estimated revenue, number of clubs, number of members, and penetration rates for 41 countries. It also features an article in fitness equipment and program trends as well as profiles of leading club companies. The "2005 IHRSA Global Report" is available to IHRSA members for $35 and $60 for non-members at www.ihrsastore.org or 800-228-4772.

>> Time Magazine went all out and produced a 32-page special report urging Americans to get fit as a part of its 96-page June 6 issue on newsstands last week (Yes, a third of the issue!). The "Getting Fit" special section notes there are two epidemics in America, obesity and physical inactivity, and the magazine's goal with the mega-section is to address the imbalance of the two. With a circulation of 4.25 million, it's sure to attract the attention of a few. The issue covers a variety of topics in a solidly researched, highly qualified journalistic way, including a report on the shape of the nation and who really is doing what, how to go from couch potato to runner, a look at how else exercise helps you beyond physically, the shape of youth today and the movement to abort the woes, a look at whether you can be fat and healthy, and a report on "extreme" sports, as well as a few essays, myth-busters and other bits. All worth a good look. The magazine considered the report a second-annual on the theme after its report on obesity last June. That means we'll have another to look forward to next June.

>> Ten years after its inception, online retailing is growing up fast. According to "The State of Retailing Online 8.0," an annual Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research of 137 retailers, 2004 online sales rose 23.8 percent to $141.4 billion. Excluding travel, online retail sales also rose 23.8 percent to $89.0 billion, representing 4.6 percent of total retail sales. The report predicts that online sales (including travel) will rise 22.0 percent to $172.4 billion this year. Sales excluding travel are expected to reach $109.6 billion.

>> According to the results of the May NRF Retail Executive Opinion Survey, customer traffic for May continued to read below normal. Retailers cited weak sales and traffic as the primary reason the Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI) for May posted a marginal increase of 53.6, compared to 50.5 from the previous month. Although sales (46.4) and traffic (39.3) for the month of May were below normal, the average transaction size per customer was very healthy with a reading of 64.3, 11.5 points higher than the previous month. Retail Operations continue to be a bright spot for the industry as the Operations Index remained above normal with a reading of 53.6 points, a slight decrease from April's reading of 54.2. With the weather becoming more seasonal and word that gas prices will continue to drop during the summer, retailers are looking at the future performance of the industry with increased optimism, the NRF said. The Demand Outlook, which is a six-month ahead sales outlook, rose 4.3 points in May from a month ago to 57.1. The NRF Executive Opinion Survey gauges the state of the U.S. retail industry and is used to gather the opinions of the industry's top executives on trends in merchandising, hiring, sales expectations, customer traffic and special seasonal-related developments. www.nrf.com.

>> BodyMedia, a developer of wearable body monitoring devices, and Apex Fitness Group, a weight loss and fitness program provider, are now offering the Bodybugg wearable body monitor nationwide. The companies said that the Bodybugg monitor measures an individual's total calories burned continuously and over long periods of time which, when uploaded to the Bodybugg website, creates a "dashboard" of the wearer's progress that both the wearer and their personal trainer can see and use to help modify eating and exercise habits. Apex Fitness, which has worldwide exclusive rights to sell BodyMedia's weight management products in health clubs, is now making the Bodybugg available in clubs across the country. Check it out at www.bodymedia.com and www.apexfitness.com.

>> A new study found that most American consumers don't realize Internet merchants and even traditional retailers sometimes charge different prices to different customers for the same products. A survey of 1,500 adults, called "Open to Exploitation," found nearly two-thirds of adult Internet users believed incorrectly it was illegal to charge different people different prices, a practice retailers call "price customization." The study, released by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, also said 87 percent of people strongly objected to the practice of online stores charging people different prices for the same products based on information collected about their shopping habits. The Web lets shoppers easily compare prices, but it also enables businesses to quietly collect detailed records on a customer's behavior and preferences and set prices accordingly. Doing so is generally lawful unless it discriminates against race or gender or violates antitrust or price-fixing laws. By using this information, online sites try to retain loyal customers, while discouraging bargain hunters who check many sites for the lowest price. First-time buyers at a retailer could see higher prices than a repeat customer. However, retailers may not offer discounts to repeat shoppers who buy the same brands regularly without even looking at alternatives on the site. The study was based on a Feb. 8 to March 4 phone survey of 1,500 adults who said they had used the Internet within the past 30 days. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.5 percent.

>> Paper piled high on your desk? Email overload on your computer? Feeling burned out and haven't had more than a few days off in, well, you're not sure when? NFI Research found in a recent poll that 82 percent of senior executives and managers won't be taking all their vacation time this year citing overall work demands. Workload and pressing projects are the second and third reasons, respectively. Research also found when it comes to managers' own personal reasons not to take a break the same three reasons were listed, with 65 percent giving overall work demands as a reason. More managers (58 percent) than senior executives (46 percent) list workload as a reason they do not take all the vacation time they are entitled to, while 28 percent of senior executives cite business travel compared to the 19 percent of managers. While one respondent noted that "you're either aggressively moving forward, or on vacation and someone else is moving in on your place," another had a much healthier view: "I am a 55-year-old CEO with five weeks annual leave. I took my first ever two-consecutive week vacation three years ago and it was the best thing I ever did for myself and my family. This year, I am taking three weeks. I work with a lot of Europeans and unlike Americans they do not link their personal identity to their jobs. By and large I think executives think they need to set an example in this area and they are setting the wrong one. Revitalized employees are more productive, more fun, and healthier." NFI Research (www.nfiresearch.com) is a U.S.-based research firm that identifies and analyzes trends and attitudes in business and organizational management.

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