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 20,000 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.

Intense Competition Creates Challenges

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

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 Vietnam.

Industry size & Structure

The average sporting goods store employs about 12 workers and generates about $3 million in annual revenue.

    • The sporting goods stores industry is comprised of 20,000 retail establishments, generating sales of about $67 billion, and employing 240,000 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 Online 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 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

                                Jul 2, 2024 - Sales Decline, Wages Up
                                • Sales for sporting goods stores fell 11% in April 2024 to $4.6 billion compared to a year ago, marking the second consecutive month of declines year over year, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau reported by the National Sporting Goods Association. Producer prices fell 1.1% in April 2024 compared to a year ago, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Prices have grown 10.4% since 2019. Employment by sporting goods retailers fell 1% in April 2024 compared to a year ago, and wages grew almost 2%, reaching an average of $22.29 per hour, per the BLS.
                                • Sports participation levels increased for 35 of the 56 sports and activities tracked in 2023 compared to the previous year in a National Sporting Goods Association report. The “2024 Sports Participation in the US” showed that pickleball participation continued its strong growth in 2023, up 54% over 2022. Team sports with the highest participation growth in 2023 were cheerleading (15%), soccer (12%), and flag football (10%). The personal contact segment, which includes boxing, wrestling, and martial arts, saw participation increases of 14% over the prior year. The wheel sports segment decreased 1.2% due to a fall in bike riding participation. According to Nick Rigitano, Director of Insights and Analysis at NSGA, “Overall it is great to see participation levels up across the majority of sports and recreational activities we track. It tells us the opportunities are there for retailers, team dealers and manufacturers in the sporting goods industry to grow their business.” Sporting goods stores will want to manage their merchandising and inventory to reflect the changes in participation levels.
                                • Consumer confidence levels fell in June 2024, after an uptick in May, according to data from The Conference Board. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index was 100.4 in June 2024 from 101.3 in May 2024. Dana Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board, noted that confidence was the highest among those under age 35 and those in the income category of over $100,000. Plans for large appliance and smart phone purchases rose on a six-month basis, while plans for car purchases stalled.
                                • A new UBS report in Retail Dive forecasts that 45,000 retail stores may close in upcoming years as online sales gain share. Online retail penetration is expected to rise to 26% from 21%, with retail sales growth of 4% by 2028, as the industry focuses more on fulfillment and distribution centers. If the closures occur, USB said the total number of stores in the US will fall from 958,533 to 913,500. Other factors driving store closures include a tighter lending environment, higher operational costs, and consumers spending more on services than goods. The report stated that sporting goods, clothing, consumer electronics, home furnishings, hobby, book, and music stores have closed the most locations since the first quarter of 2019. Still, retailers can incorporate existing stores as an important piece of their omnichannel capabilities. Per the report, “Our analysis assumes that stores remain an important part of the overall retail ecosystem for retailers and consumers. In the simplest terms, stores serve as hubs of fulfillment and support distribution logistics. This is increasingly more important as consumers are becoming more demanding for convenience or immediate deliveries.”
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