COVID-19 Hits Industry Hard, Yet Fitness Surges

Monthly Survey Measures Change Through Pandemic Response

SILVER SPRING, MD (May 21, 2020) – The SFIA COVID-19 Response Survey confirms dramatic, unprecedented revenue drops across the sports and fitness industry, while indicating select product category surges. With the onset of COVID-19, much of sports retail business stopped almost immediately, with corresponding impact on brands and manufacturers, unlike anything the industry has ever experienced. Over 70 percent of sports and fitness manufacturers and businesses reported a sales drop of over 25 percent for the month of April (comparing April 2020 sales to April 2019 sales), with 30 percent of respondents reporting a sales drop of over 75 percent. However, there were pockets of strength: home fitness equipment and at-home sports equipment sales grew in same period.

“It is not news that the pandemic struck our industry hard,” said Tom Cove, President & CEO of SFIA. “But the immediacy and magnitude of the decline of sales across so many categories was dramatic. That said, this survey does identify hopeful signs, especially in the confidence respondents showed in predicting increased sales in the second half of this year. We will conduct this new survey on a monthly basis to identify what is working and track how the industry is evolving.”

Eighty-one percent of respondents indicated that they experienced disruptions in their supply chain.   With regard specifically to fulfillment and distribution centers, respondents characterized such disruptions as “moderate” rather than “severe.”  SFIA will monitor this closely in the future, as “shelter in place” regulations in many states may prove a constraint to full staffing of these locations. This is important as the positive elements of sales indicated in the survey were weighted to the ecommerce channel. Near term sales trends will likely continue to be heavily reliant on one’s ability to connect virtually with the customer.

The survey also explored “return to play” projections. The industry believes fitness will be the first to come back, with a majority seeing fitness clubs and boutiques to return in the next one to three months. Team sports, according to the survey, are perceived most likely to return in the fall. In both fitness and team sports, a minority (8-20 percent) expects no return until 2021.   

To download the full SFIA COVID-19 Industry Impact Report – April 2020, click here.

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