As U.S. consumers tackle ways to keep themselves and their families busy, active, and fit during this time of social distancing, sports and home fitness equipment as well as children’s and adult leisure bicycles have seen double- and triple-digit sales increases, according to retail sales data from The NPD Group.
With schools closed and sports leagues cancelled, adults have been tasked with inventing recess and physical activity for their kids. Goals and nets, hoop systems, and balls were March growth leaders within the sports equipment space. Soccer, lacrosse, and hockey goals and nets generated a combined $13.5 million in sales for March, +38% over the prior year. Similarly, golf nets and screens increased by +144%, and swinging and putting mats increased +138%. Basketball hoop systems grew by +110%. Basketballs and footballs grew double-digits, and both were driven by junior sizes.
Likewise, with gyms and fitness centers closed, consumers have adopted at-home exercise routines, propelling a +130% rise in fitness equipment sales and all its categories including cardio machines, free weight equipment, home gym weight machines, strength training products, and yoga and Pilates essentials. A number of segments experienced triple-digit gains including weight benches (+259%), free weights (+181%), stationary bikes (+170%), and yoga mats (+146%).
“The sports industry is experiencing unprecedented growth and high demand for a distinct mix of products during this adjustment to an extended stay at home,” said Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for NPD’s sports practice. “The consumer lifestyle shift as a result of the current circumstances has put the sports business in a unique position compared to most other industries. I anticipate we’ll see a renewed emphasis on health and fitness for the long term.”
Within the cycling market, March sales were driven by children’s/BMX (+56%) and adult leisure (+121%) bikes. Providing the dual option to also use bicycles indoors, sales of trainers/rollers grew by +268%. Deemed essential businesses in many states during this period of shelter-in-place, independent bike shops saw a +20% increase in bike service/repair sales.
“Consumers are looking for outdoor- and kid-friendly activities to better tolerate the challenges associated with stay-at-home orders, and cycling fits the bill well,” said Dirk Sorenson, sports industry analyst at NPD. “Growth is stemming largely from children’s, BMX, and adult leisure bikes that carry a more approachable price-point than some of the more expensive bike styles that were selling well prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Ultimately, more people are likely riding today than in years past.”