Partly because of the growing national interest in health problems and obesity, more attention is being given to exercise. That is one reason that continues to fuel the category's continued ranking toward the top of sporting goods areas that are "hot," according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association "State of the Industry Report."
Exercise/Fitness ranks second in a field of numerous areas -- as it has for the last three years -- only falling behind soccer, which has also maintained the No. 1 spot for three years.
In general, all sporting goods sales rebounded to an increase of 2.8 percent over 2001's decrease in the post Sept. 11 year of 2001, where sales were down over all categories by 2.3 percent. In the category of equipment, exercise gear remains the largest single segment in dollar volume.
Trends include retail consolidation, with the number of stores dropping by 12 percent but the average square footage going up 2 percent from 1999 to 2001. Stores had reported a planned 7 percent growth in overall floor space, and that is now going up again for 2003, according to the report. Other trends include an emphasis on improving management techniques and globalization, with more manufacturers looking offshore for manufacturing (50 percent in 2002 compared to 33 percent in 2001).