In spite of all the talk about America’s inactivity pandemic — some 82.4 million Americans were “inactive” at last count in 2017 — trends point to a burgeoning fitness movement in the U.S. The growing fitness trend is being sparked by higher health club memberships; a 7.1 percent annual increase in running participation after two consecutive years of decline; gains in all strength categories led by 14 percent growth in the number of Americans using Kettlebells; and more women working out.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as cited in a recent Coresight Research report, has documented a nearly 400-basis-point drop in American adults (18+) who smoke to 13.9 percent of the population, more than 15 percent growth in health club membership in the five years ending in 2017 and higher purchase rates of organic food.
The Top Five fitness trends for 2019, according to the annual survey of more than 2,000 fitness professionals nationwide by the American College of Sports Medicine, is led by wearable technology. This is a bit surprising given the trend had fallen to third in the 2018 survey and some retailers, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, have decided to exit the segment. The ACSM report suggests the increased popularity of wearables may be tied to their improved accuracy, including low-cost versions.
Group fitness, driven by boutique studios and people’s desire for community, accountability and motivation, is the second-ranked trend. It is followed by High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that has gravitated from the one-time exclusive workout for elite athletes to high desirability among the time-crunched set seeking out regular fitness. And with older Americans, largely the retiring Baby Boomer generation, fitness is ranked fourth, followed by body-weight exercise (5th), which first emerged during the 2008 recession as a gym and equipment alternative, and yoga (7th). Pilates and online training did not make the Top 20 and core training and circuit weight training fell from the Top 20 trends.
Also, glaringly absent from the trend forecast is fitness for children. It is a trend that that Sports & Fitness Industry Association and the nonprofit PHIT America take seriously. Last month, PHIT America revealed a new school-based running program in schools called AMPED as part of its GO! Grants program aimed at increasing physical activity among the nation’s youth. And the trade group remains steadfast in its commitment to get the PHIT Act passed through Congress this year after falling short in 2018 despite House passage of the bill last July.
The ACSM’s complete list of 2019 fitness trends:
The post-mortem on Holiday ’18 is underway as preparations for the next season commence with this week’s National Retail Federation Big Show in New York. As two department stores, Kohl’s and Macy’s, revealed somewhat disappointing seasonal comparable store sales last week, several research firms issued reports on key trends that emerged during the two-month period when online sales surged more than 17 percent to an estimated $122 billion.
For one, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly important to retailers/vendors who want to drive revenues, profitability and keep their customers satisfied. Recent WBR Insights/Radial research found that 80 percent of retailers currently utilize AI in their supply chains with 43 percent of them suggesting it directly benefits the overall customer experience.
Rob Garf, VP of industry strategy and insights for Salesforce, says the rise of AI, where 16 percent of shoppers engaged with it for a product recommendation and the technology helped to drive Average Order Values (AOV) 14 percent higher during the season, was one of five key trends that emerged. Other key trends: shoppers turning to new forms of service such as text messaging and chat; Consumers increasingly relying on mobile devices to make purchases; social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, driving online traffic; and marketers engaging consumers early in the season through new channels. For example, year-over-year, marketing text messages to consumers rose 159 percent on Thanksgiving with direct emails throughout the holiday period up 23 percent. By December 15, 80 percent of all digital revenue for the season had been captured by retailers.
Five-year old Convey, whose delivery experience management platform is used by Neiman Marcus, Jet.com and Eddie Bauer among others, focuses on What Shoppers Want and How to #SaveRetail in a recently released report that suggests nearly 74 percent of consumers find delivery important to the overall shopping experience. Radial comes to the same conclusion in its Winter 2018 report on Meeting Customer Demand for Frictionless Shopping.
“Consumers have high expectations for delivery of their orders. They expect them fast, and they have growing demands regarding the timing and location of their deliveries or pick-ups,” said Brad Taylor, VP of engineering and fulfillment for Radial.
The Convey report, in a survey of more than 1,500 shoppers, finds that more than 83 percent would be unlikely to shop a brand again after a poor experience, up from 62.4 percent in 2017. Additionally, the survey found that more than 51 percent of customers now expect a refund or discount on shipping costs if an order is delivered late.
A complete picture of Holiday 2018 retail won’t be clear for weeks after all fourth quarter results are reported by public companies, but the early results were bleak for some. ShopperTrak reported a 3 percent decline in customer traffic to physical stores between Nov. 18 and Dec. 29.
Discounters such as Target and Costco, less reliant on apparel, reported stronger results than their department store counterparts in Macy’s, Kohl’s and JC Penney. Shares in Macy’s, which lowered its full-year comparable store sales guidance to 2 percent as mid-December sales slowed, fell almost 18 percent on Jan. 10. Women’s shoes and fine jewelry offset slower results in other categories at the department store.
Meanwhile, Nov.-Dec. comps for Kohl’s rose 1.2 percent and JC Penney’s comps dipped 3.5 percent for the nine weeks ended Jan. 5. Both banners intend to close some stores this year with KSS also offering a voluntary retirement program for workers over 55. Meanwhile, Target, which realized a 29 percent increase in holiday online orders and overall sales growth of 5.7 percent for the two months ended Jan.5, is maintaining its Q4 comp guidance at approximately 5 percent.
• PGA Tour Superstore intends to open at least six doors in 2019, including its first two in New England (Peabody and Braintree) and first in Austin, TX. Other markets on tap: North Miami and Sarasota, FL and a second store in Denver. The specialty retailer, which currently operates 35 locations in 15 states, says it posted a 14 percent sales increase in 2018 on strong comp store sales and double-digit ecommerce growth.
The Snowsports Industries America is launching a climate advocacy platform called United by Winter to educate and provide tools to its members about climate change and its impacts on the snow industry.
The trade group, whose winter show takes place in Denver later this month, says the key to United by Winter’s development is the deconstruction of the “all or nothing” barriers that have prevented more widespread action in the past. The reality is, SIA says, addressing climate change is not a one size fits all approach and may require individual stakeholders to address the issue on their own terms.
The United by Winter platform will educate SIA participating members and provide a road map for them to engage via a range of opportunities. The trade organization intends to work with members on a case-by-case basis to better understand their goals and limitations.
Nick Sargent, president of the SIA, says the group’s goal is to get a majority of members involved on some level, ranging from light touch social media to heavier advocacy efforts.
More information about the United by Winter campaign is available at: snowsports.org/climate.
Dearfoams, the RG Barry Corp.-owned lifestyle footwear brand, taps 16-year Hanesbrands’ veteran Tricia Bouras as its new brand president. She is replacing Dearfoams’ current president Lee Smith. He is moving into a new role overseeing new development and innovation for the Pickering, OH company. Before HBI, Bouras worked in various marketing and visual merchandising capacities at a variety of firms, including VF Corp.
Meanwhile, Dakine Equipment LLC has appointed outdoor industry veteran David Orr as global general manager for the Hood River, OR company with responsibility for all aspects of product creation, sales and operations. He will report directly to Jonathan Hirshberg at Dakine parent, JR286 in Southern California. Orr’s 30-year career has included stops at Keen, Timberland and adidas among others.
• The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has added Rick Salomone, a former 21-year 3M executive who previously served as CEO of holographic science company SURYS, as managing director of sponsorship.
• YETI Holdings hired Melisa Goldie, the former global Chief Marketing Officer for Calvin Klein for more than 15 years, as its first CMO. She will be charged with uniting Yeti’s brand, creative, digital, ecommerce and customer experience teams.
• USA Cycling names Rob DeMartini, president and CEO of New Balance Athletics for a dozen years, as president and CEO starting next month. His prior experience included two decades at P&G.
• Hybrid Apparel names Bill Hutchison, most recently with AM Retail Group (Wilson’s Leather and G.H. Bass among others), as CEO.
• POC adds Brandan Murphy as North American marketing manager. Most recently, he served as a senior brand manager for Giro Sport Design.
Puma is unveiling a boxing-inspired style, men’s performance shoe in the Jaab XT that is worn by five-time Formula 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. MSRP: $80.
Salted Venture,a Samsung Electronics spin-off, changes its corporate name to SALTED from IOFITas it aims to make its golf shoes more accessible to U.S. coaches, academiesand distributors. SALTED “smart” golf shoes have an embedded sensor in the soleto track weight transfer and balance during the swing and connect to an app.
Roc Nation Sports added a third soccer player to its roster to represent, Eric Bailly, a defender for Manchester United and the Ivory Coast. Fellow ManU player Romelu Lukaku and Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng are already represented by the firm.
American Giant, the domestic maker of activewear and denim that was founded in 2011, raised another $9.3 million, according to a public filing, and is aiming for another $3.1 million. Previously, the San Francisco company that has manufacturing operations in Los Angeles and Middlesex, NC, raised $5.6 million. The brand, which operates a store at its headquarters, intends to shutter a New York City pop-up shop this month.
PLAE launched PLAE Pro, a comprehensive website and mobile app that delivers educational content and enhances communities. The Woodstock, GA company says PLAE Pro is another example of its investment in coaches and athletes. Features include interactive workshops on specific sports or subjects, a live stream option starting Feb. 1, a video series called Beyond the Chalk and forums. Annual subscription, after a free, three-day trial, is $99.
SportsEngine HQ is a new expansion to the SportsEngine software that provides tech tools for youth sports organizations and a suite of premium tools for club and league administrators. The NBC Sports Group company says the HQ provides youth sports organizations with easy ways to raise money, promote their programs, build an apparel store, and manage payments from parents, at no cost.
STX will be the official equipment supplier to the new Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). The partnership will showcase STX-sponsored athletes in the PLL, including Kyle Harrison and Marcus Holman. Harrison is the director of player relations for the league and a STX athlete since 2005.
YETI’s preliminary FY18 revenues rose 22 percent to $778.8 million with DTC up 48 percent and wholesale rising 10 percent for the 12 months ended Dec. 29. Drink ware sales increased 37 percent to $424.2 million; coolers/equipment revenues improved 6 percent to $331.2 million. Among the company’s long-term targets are 10-15 percent top line growth and gross margins in the 50.0-52.0 percent range.