COVID-19: Consumer Fitness Equipment Buying Habits

Goals

To have a broad understanding of how shopping for running equipment has changed during the COVID-19 situation in North America. An ideal response would have information surrounding whether people are buying fewer athletic/running shoes, or whether the purchase rate is fairly stable except it has moved to online instead of brick and mortar. The focus should be on running shoes, but expansion to information on any running equipment would also be useful.

Early Findings

  • The changing story of United States athletic footwear sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic reached a turning point by the 3rd week in March, according to NPD research.
  • Sales began to fall as soon as sneaker retailers closed their brick and mortar locations. For the week ending March 21, athletic footwear sales were down by sixty-five percent compared to the same week in 2019, with none of the major and hottest brands being spared.
  • While there have been many media reports of more people running outside since their fitness facilities have closed, so far NDP does not show any rise in running shoe sales. For the week ending March 21, running shoe sales were down by nearly seventy percent.
  • NDP predicts that as long as most physical stores remain closed, they do not expect these athletic footwear trends to change. While they concede that some sales have probably switched to online and given a boost to retailers’ and brands’ e-commerce businesses, this is still not being done in large enough numbers to compensate and reverse these trends. However, it should be noted that many people may still be using the shoes they already have. If the pandemic continues, this may change consumer behavior.
  • Many Americans are using their self isolation time to focus on their health, with eight-five percent of consumers taking up some kind of exercise while in social isolation, and forty percent of them saying they intend to keep it up when restrictions are lifted. This interest has resulted in some fitness product categories experiencing a spike in demand, but also many fitness categories showing serious declines from last year.
  • Stackline examined ecommerce sales across the United States from March 2020 versus March 2019. They built a list of the fastest growing and declining ecommerce categories from which an examination of the fitness categories revealed some interesting findings. It was found that women's health (#18 and up 215%), health monitors (#28 and up 182%), fitness equipment (#31 and up 170%), and yoga equipment (#42 and up 154%) were all on the fastest growing list. On the list for fastest declining year over year were boys athletic shoes (#9 and down 59%), gym bags (#10 and down 57%), track and field equipment (#30 and down 48%), girls athletic shoes (#42 and down 44%), men's athletic shoes (#48 and down 40%), and women's athletic shoes (#82 and down 33%).

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our initial hour of research was able to provide information, data, and statistics surrounding how shopping for running shoes, and other fitness equipment, has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We focused on North America, and the United States specifically.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Proposed next steps:

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