The Retail Sporting Goods Winding Road to Success
According to a National Sporting Goods Association 2011 report on sports participation in the U.S, of the top 10 sports, only walking, exercising (with equipment), aerobic exercising, hiking and jogging reported increased participation over last year.
Most of the 46 sports activities ranked reflected lower participation in 2011 than in 2010. The only other sports to show an increase were yoga, hunting (with firearms), tennis, soccer, backpacking, kayaking (saw a whopping 27% increase), gymnastics, wrestling, lacrosse and cross-country skiing.
With the exception of hunting, kayaking, and cross-country skiing, there aren’t too many sports listed on the upswing that require a lot of cash outlay by the consumer. Outdoor Life Magazine reported that hunting rifles range from about $475 to $5,500. Kayaks (‘Touring’” kayaks in particular) run from $200 for inflatable types to several thousands of dollars for those made of carbon or Kevlar. Cross-country skiing can involve several hundred dollars for skis, poles, boots and clothing. But what these 2011 numbers didn’t reflect was the mild, dry winter of late 2011 into 2012, which adversely affected ski and snow sports equipment sales, showing a decrease of 12% over last year, according to SnowSports Industries America, a trade association out of McLean, VA.
With major chain stores in retail posting a weak 0.1% increase in June, what path does the sporting goods retailer take?
Taking into consideration weather, economic uncertainty and sports participation trends, the sporting goods retailer may be able to plan accordingly and rise above these tentative times and the ebb and flow nature of the economy by using recruitment agencies specializing in retail staffing to fulfill temporary labor needs.
Large chains like Dicks, Sports Authority, Galyan’s, etc., have an advantage because their inventory is so varied. Smaller specialty shops have the benefit of stocking deeper into specific lines, a more informed and experienced staff whose customer service is noteworthy, offering repair or tune-up services and catering to a local market who they may know personally. Relying on a retail staffing service to find the proper fit for this specialty niche can save time and money when dollars are scarce.
Sporting goods sales are sensitive to the economy, as is sports participation. And online purchases may not be the answer either. The Outdoor Industry Association warned that higher shipping costs would negate “free shipping” offers. More consumers are doing comparison-shopping online and pitting e-retailers against each other, while the brick-and-mortar counterparts are positioning themselves in a more attractive way. Often when mistakes in online ordering are made through sporting goods retailer, the customer will go to a local store to remedy the faulty product. Retail recruiting agencies can supply that personalized service that an experienced staff can provide, outfitting the customer with the correct size, type or quality product, and that, in turn, creates repeat business.