Skip to main content

Retailers game for pushing equipment


Promoting early and often will be the key this holiday season for retailers looking to sell items such as fitness equipment and indoor game tables during what is normally a peak selling period for such big-ticket sporting goods products.

Challenging economic conditions persist and retailers have already seen how consumers reduced spending, traded down and consolidated shopping trips this summer and during the back-to-school season. Retailers were left scrambling for sales as everyone felt the bite of record energy prices.

Even though oil and gas prices are well off their record highs, there is ample concern about holiday sales, specifically how sales of fitness equipment and indoor games could suffer because of ongoing consumer concerns regarding the economy.

There are plenty of reasons to suggest no one will be buying treadmills, elliptical machines, recumbent bicycles, home gyms and game stables this holiday season. However, retailers do have a few trends working in their favor that could be effective at driving sales. For example, the concept of “staycations,” emerged this year as people avoided long driving trips and stayed closer to home. That trend offers a glimmer of hope for the indoor game business as consumers may be able to justify the purchase of a pool table, air hockey table or foosball table as an alternative to some other type of entertainment expense that was deferred or avoided.

This type of trading-down activity could also impact the fitness equipment category, which generally enjoys its strongest sales during December and January as consumers renew commitments to improve their health.

Oftentimes they do so by joining a fitness center. However, an investment in a piece of home equipment may be viewed as a more affordable and convenient alternative.

Fitness equipment and indoor game sales could see some benefit from the staycation trend, further declines in gas prices and a resolution to the consumer confidence-sapping effects of a presidential election, but it will require new levels of promotional creativity on the part of retailers to drive sales in what is expected to be a challenging market.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds