Sporting Goods Stores

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 19,800 sporting goods stores in the US sell a wide range of sporting and athletic products to recreational enthusiasts and the general public. Products typically fall into three broad categories: apparel, footwear, or hardline merchandise (equipment and accessories). Specialty stores may focus on only one category of product, such as golf or skiing.

Reliance On Imports

A significant portion of the products that sporting goods stores purchase for resale, including those purchased from domestic suppliers, are manufactured abroad in countries such as China, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Intense Competition Creates Challenges

Sporting goods stores face intense competition from large chains, mass merchandisers, catalogs, and Internet retailers.

Industry size & Structure

The average sporting goods store employs about 15 workers and generates about $3 million in annual revenue.

    • The sporting goods stores industry is comprised of 19,800 retail establishments, generating sales of about $67 billion, and employing 232,000 workers
    • Large sporting goods retailers include Dick's Sporting Goods, Cabela's, and Big 5 Sports.
    • In general, competition tends to fall into the following five basic categories, depending on a stores size and/or product offerings: superstores, traditional stores, specialty stores, mass merchandisers, or catalog/internet retailers.
    • Superstores - Stores in this category are usually 35,000 square feet or larger and tend to be in freestanding locations. These stores typically offer a very wide number of products, across all athletic and sporting venues, and emphasize high volume sales. They often offer their own private label branded products, in addition to nationally branded products. Examples of sporting goods superstores include Dick's Sporting Goods and Academy Sports & Outdoors.
    • Traditional Stores - These stores usually range in size from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet and are frequently located in regional malls and multi-store shopping centers. Traditional stores can be independent or chain stores, usually carry a varied assortment of athletic and sporting merchandise, and often position themselves as convenient neighborhood stores. Stores in this category include Big 5 Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports.
    • Specialty Stores - Specialty sporting goods stores range in size from about 2,000 to 20,000 square feet and typically offer an extensive assortment of one specific product category, such as athletic shoes, golf, or outdoor equipment, or may focus on one or a limited number of sports. They often have a lower operating-cost advantage because of their smaller store footprint. Specialty stores typically carry higher quality lines of products, selling at higher prices but lower volume, and may offer more extensive services, like repair and maintenance, or pro-shops. Examples of these stores include Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's, Foot Locker, and REI.
    • Mass Merchandisers - This category includes discount retailers such as Walmart or Target, and department stores such as Macy's and Kohl's. They may be located in regional malls, shopping centers, or freestanding sites. These stores range in size from 50,000 to 200,000 square feet, but the space devoted to sporting goods merchandise represents a very small portion of their overall square footage. Their merchandise selection is usually much more limited than other sporting goods retailers, and is typically focused on popular sports and fast-moving merchandise. Mass merchandisers place less emphasis on customer service and equipment services, but usually have a price advantage over other retailers due to their greater purchasing power.
    • Catalog and Internet-based Retailers - This category consists of numerous retailers that sell a broad array of new and used sporting goods or accessories via catalogs or the Internet. These retailers typically compete by offering some combination of low prices and shopping convenience. They can offer low prices, due to their lower overhead expenses and often sales tax avoidance, as well as the convenience of shipping direct to the consumer. The Internet has been a rapidly growing sales channel, particularly among younger computer savvy consumers, and an increasing source of competition within the sporting goods retail industry.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Sporting Goods Stores Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                Mar 2, 2024 - Higher Employment Costs, Levels
                                • According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment levels for sporting goods stores were slightly higher in December 2023 over the previous year and have increased by 5.5% since pre-pandemic figures. Employment costs have climbed significantly in a tight labor market, with wages reaching a high of $22 an hour in the fourth quarter of 2023 and rising nearly 38.4% since December 2019, according to the BLS. Producer prices for sporting goods retailers trended down in the fourth quarter of 2023. In December 2023, producer prices were down slightly from the previous year and rose 6.7% from 2019, per the BLS. Additionally, consumer spending levels grew in the last half of 2023, a 3.1% increase in the third quarter and 2.8% in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters.
                                • Consumer confidence levels fell in February 2024 after increasing for three consecutive months, according to data from The Conference Board. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 106.7 in February 2024 from 110.9 in January 2024. According to Dana Peterson, Chief Economist at The Conference Board, “The decline in consumer confidence in February interrupted a three-month rise, reflecting persistent uncertainty about the US economy. The drop in confidence was broad-based, affecting all income groups except households earning less than $15,000 and those earning more than $125,000.” Peterson added that the decline in consumer confidence was largest in householders over 55 and those under 35. Plans to purchase homes, autos, and large appliances decreased slightly on a six-month basis.
                                • A new report from the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail shows returns for the retail industry reached $743 billion in merchandise in 2023, according to Chain Store Age. The rate in 2023 was 14.5%, lower than the 16.5% in 2022 and 16.6% in 2021. The average retailer faces $145 million in merchandise returns for every $1 billion in sales. Online sales have a higher return rate; 17.6% of merchandise purchased online is returned compared to 10% for pure brick-and-mortar returns. Over 15% of holiday gifts are expected to be returned, totaling some $148 billion. Fraudulent returns account for 16.5% of total holiday returns. Types of return fraud in 2023 included returns of used, non-defective merchandise (49%), the return of shoplifted or stolen goods (44%), returns of goods purchased on fraudulent or stolen tender (37%), and return fraud from organized retail crime organizations (20%).
                                • According to a new Forrester report shared by Retail Dive, consumers are more moved by free shipping than same-day delivery. About 75% of US online consumers say that free shipping is among the most critical criteria they consider when deciding where to shop online, while only 20% selected next-day or same-day delivery as a key factor. Retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart have invested in same-day and next-day delivery capabilities as a competitive differentiator to speed up delivery times, even though consumers have not cited this as a priority. Nearly 50% of consumers surveyed by Forrester said the option for same-day delivery has little impact on which retailer or brand they will buy. The average delivery time cited in the article between placing and receiving an order was four days as of April 2023. Consumers have expressed interest in buying online and picking up at a nearby store (22%), curbside pickup (27%), and drive-through pickup options (15%).
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