Bowling Centers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 3,100 bowling centers in the US are indoor facilities that offer bowling and related activities. They serve a mix of league and recreational bowlers. Major revenue categories include game fees; food and beverage sales; and rental fees (shoes, balls). Bowling centers may offer group events, such as birthday parties or corporate gatherings.

Decline of Bowling

Despite status as one of the top participation sports in the US, bowling as a competitive and recreational activity has struggled to remain relevant to Americans.

Boutique Bowling

To further engage adults and redefine the image of bowling, some firms have adopted a boutique bowling model.

Industry size & Structure

The average bowling center operates out of a single location, employs about 13-14 workers, and generates about $1.3 million annually.

    • The US bowling center industry consists of about 3,100 companies that employ about 43,000 workers and generate $4 billion annually.
    • The industry includes about 3,860 certified individual bowling centers and just over 84,000 lanes, according to the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).
    • The bowling center industry is fragmented; the top 50 companies account for about 34% of industry revenue.
    • Large companies include Bowlmor AMF (AMF and Strike Holdings), divisions of Brunswick, and Bowl America.
                                  Industry Forecast
                                  Bowling Centers Industry Growth
                                  Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                  Recent Developments

                                  Mar 10, 2023 - Entertainment-Related Spending Drops
                                  • Entertainment-related spending fell nearly 30% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, as inflation caused consumers to cut back on non-essential expenses, according to a Gravy Analytics survey in Consumers are looking toward budget-minded spending, with grocery stores, wholesale stores, home-building stores, pet stores, and discount stores notching an increase in foot traffic at the end of 2022. Experts expect the trends to continue in 2023 as long as the higher prices hold. Added Jeff White, founder and CEO of Gravy Analytics, “Insights from our report show that consumers are making careful decisions about their spending and are looking for value much more now than they were a year ago. As widespread layoffs and economic uncertainty rage on, expect consumers to look for ways to save money on clothing, housewares, and other living essentials so long as job security and inflation remain concerns.”
                                  • Nearly 50% of small business owners reported hiring or trying to hire staff in February 2023, down 10 points from the previous month, according to the monthly jobs report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). Of those companies hiring or trying to hire, 90% of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. About 21% of owners reported labor quality as their top business operating problem, and 12% reported labor costs as a top concern. According to NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg, “The small business labor demand remained strong in February. Small business owners are working to maintain competitive compensation and are raising compensation in the hopes of filling their open critical positions.”
                                  • New technology is prompting more bowling centers to trade in their old-school bowling pin systems for string pins, causing concern for some bowlers, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The string pins are part of an automated system incorporated by alley owners as a cost-saving measure. The newer methods are reported to need fewer repairs than free-falling pin systems. The US Bowling Congress (USBC) researched string pins using a robotic bowling arm and found that string pins yielded nearly 7% fewer strikes, more spares, and more oddball splits compared to free-falling pins. Bowling alley owners say they must take necessary cost-saving steps to stay in business following the pandemic lockdowns. Bowlero CEO Thomas Shannon said he considered the string pins the sport’s third greatest technological advance, following automated pinsetting and computerized scorekeeping. Shannon said, “Whether you like it or not, the reality is it’s going to happen.”
                                  • Consumer confidence levels declined in January 2023, following an increase in December 2022, according to data from The Conference Board. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 107.1 in January 2023 from 109 in December 2022. According to Ataman Ozyildirim, a senior director of economics at The Conference Board, “Consumer confidence declined in January, but it remains above the level seen last July, lowest in 2022. Consumer confidence fell the most for households earning less than $15,000 and for households aged under 35.” While plans to purchase homes have cooled, plans to buy cars and appliances have held steady, per Ozyildirim.
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