Running USA's State of the Sport Series

07/15/2008 - 09:35

July 15, 2008 from Running USA wire - In its annual State of the Sport Series , Running USA will examine how patterns in corporate, consumer and running behavior have changed over the last decade and what to expect for the future of running - both the sport and the industry. Part I looks at the status of the manufacturing and vendor components of the industry as well as estimates for the total number of runners. Part II will share demographic highlights of the first National Runner Survey project conducted by Running USA and the RRCA in 2007. Part III will examine trends of U.S. road running events and Part IV will focus on the Largest Races in the country and the world.

Part I: An Industry Poised for Economic Challenges

Over much of the last decade, the state of the U.S. Running Industry could be described by an array of percentages - mostly gains - with frequent use of phrases such as "steady growth" and "promising future". The second half of 2007 and the first two quarters of 2008 have provided sobering economic news for the country as a whole. The running industry is not immune from these negative forces, but innovative running products and events, new uses for technology and an understanding of how the runner market has evolved can provide as many opportunities as challenges.

In SGMA's "2008 State of the Industry Survey", Running was 4th on the list of "Hottest Sports for Sales Growth in 2008" behind Yoga / Pilates, Fitness Walking and Lacrosse. In interest of full disclosure, it has been in the top 5 for several years, but the placement does indicate the potential and / or consistency that sporting goods industry leaders see in running products.

Runner's World magazine, the industry's largest periodical, continued its trend of increasing ad sales from year-to-year. The Magazine Publishers of America reports an annual ad sales total of $72,028,716 for Runner's World in 2007, an 8.2% increase over 2006. During the same time period, the overall magazine industry averaged a 5.9% increase in ad sales. In the first half of 2008, magazines overall have experienced a decrease in ad sales of -3.1% while Runner's World has been able to increase sales by 8.1%.

Running Footwear
"Running" products were first on SGMA's list for "Top-Selling Shoe Styles" with an increase of 5.3% from $3.054 billion in 2006 to $3.216 billion in 2007 (SGMA-2). NPD, on the other hand, reported that consumers said they spent more on low performance shoes in 2007 (average price of $31.14) than running styles (average price of $41.97). This was the first time in a number of years that running was not at the top of that list.

The retail perspective reported by NSGA in the annual "Sporting Goods Market of 2008" also rang a few warning bells with a reported 3% decline in the value of running and jogging shoes sold in 2007 and 3.6% decline in units. See Table 1 below for historical shoe sales figures and distribution channels.

The running specialty store which is a vital conduit between manufacturer and core runners had a smaller share of running shoe sales in 2007. That trend may or may not continue in 2008 and beyond, but what is undeniable is the future growth of the internet sales channel which accounted for 8% of the running shoe sales in 2007. Specialty vendors with the help of manufacturers, events and clubs will need to attract new participants to ensure that the running pie is bigger. They can also look for products that are attractive to people who just want to look like runners. NPD reports that "only about a third of all sportswear or athletic footwear is purchased with the intent that it will be used in an active sport."

For the rest of Running USA's State of the Sport, Part I: An Industry Poised for Economic Challenges, CLICK here.

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