When The Sports Authority (TSA) filed for bankruptcy last spring, it was the largest failure we had ever seen in the sports industry. The overleveraged TSA represented about 20 million square feet of sporting goods retail – nearly 10 percent of the industry's square footage. Proportionally, TSA represented more than 10 percent of the industry’s apparel and equipment sales while it under-indexed in footwear.
NPD’s Checkout Tracking correctly identified the primary recipients of TSA’s business: e-commerce (brand, retail, and pure play), adjacent big box sporting goods, and national discounters. But what was not anticipated was that some of its business would simply evaporate.
It is now clear that some of TSA’s business came from its Sunday flyer marketing strategy. Even if the customer did not need what was advertised, some came out and bought goods simply for the discount. Now that those flyers are no longer running and with no traffic going through their stores, a portion of TSA’s business has vanished into thin air.
It is easy to see this in the outdoor industry numbers, where TSA was a major player. Outdoor sales through the athletic specialty/sporting goods channel decelerated from down in the low single-digits in the first half, to down in the high single-digits in the third quarter. Sales in the outdoor specialty channel actually improved in the third quarter from the first half, as it picked up some sales given up by TSA.
In activewear, we see a similar trend. Nike and Under Armour are the largest brands in activewear. Their sales for Q3 were up sharply in department stores and national chains, but were down sharply in athletic specialty/sporting goods. Adidas, who did not have a big presence at TSA, saw sales rise sharply.
In footwear, where TSA was not as significant a player, the shift is less visible, but still exists nonetheless. Changing fashion categories also mask the shift in the business. Running shoes was a category where TSA had a strong position. Sales there decelerated sharply after TSA stores closed. Categories including classic footwear, where TSA was not an influential factor, were not impacted at all.
It is clear that the closing of The Sports Authority stores last summer has left a vacuum in the market. The greatest impact on the business will come in the fourth quarter, as this was when TSA was fighting for its life. After that we should see this void created by TSA’s closings begin to abate.
SFIA Virtual Conference
Presenter: Matt Powell, Senior Industry Advisor – U.S. Sports
Presentation Title: Best Practices for Brands & Retail in the Current Environment
Date and Time: Thursday, September 24 at 12:05 p.m.
Description: Matt Powell hosts an interactive discussion on marketplace trends and what brands and retailers can do to win post-pandemic. Matt, a well-known and often quoted expert in the sports industry, will be presenting the trends and forces shaping our industry, its response to COVID-19, and its future. Matt will assess the industry across various categories, discuss the forces impacting manufacturers, retailers and consumers, and provide his predictions for the coming year. Drawing upon NPD's sales tracking data, his 40+ years in the industry, and insights from what has been successful in other industries NPD tracks, Matt will focus on best practices and what manufacturers and retailers can do to thrive in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.