Operations: Could the Athleisure Trend Save Your Pro Shop?


Running a profitable pro shop isn’t easy. There’s a delicate balance that needs to be maintained between purchasing the right amount of inventory, selecting what pieces to sell, and pricing it appropriately.

And retail in general is a flagging industry. According to The Atlantic, “There have been nine retail bankruptcies in 2017 — as many as all of 2016. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s and Sears have each announced more than 100 store closures.”

As The Atlantic notes, this would make sense if we were in a recession. “But GDP has been growing for eight straight years, gas prices are low, unemployment is under 5 percent, and the last 18 months have been quietly excellent years for wage growth, particularly for middle- and lower-income Americans.” (The Atlantic).

What’s causing this retail meltdown? A number of factors, states The Atlantic, including “the rise of e-commerce, the oversupply of malls, and the surprising effects of a restaurant renaissance — have conspired to change the face of American shopping.”

However, there is a bright spot: Athleisure. Fortune reported that in 2016, athleisure sales grew 12 percent from the previous year to $39.9 billion. As a result, it is now one of the most popular segments in the retail industry.

What is athleisure? Recently, Merriam-Webster made the word an entry, defining it as “casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use.”

The athleisure trend is being driven by millennials — who love the versatility of athleisure. That, and the fact that millennials are more health-conscious than previous generations.

And according to Forbes, this retail segment is expected to grow: “Morgan Stanley has predicted a growth to $83 billion by 2020, stealing the market share from non-athletic apparel.”

With this in mind, could athleisure be the saving grace for your pro shop? Possibly, especially if your club has a high percentage of millennials, who again, are driving the athleisure trend.

It should be noted that over the past 12 months, the athleisure market has shown a slight decline. According to Reuters, “In the age of fast fashion, when trends change overnight, athletic leisure wear is showing signs of age.”

In addition, Lululemon — the poster child for athleisure — recently saw a steep drop in stock price.

However, experts note this has more to do with increased competition and failed marketing, than an actual indication that athleisure is going away.

No, athleisure is here to stay — and it could be your pro shop’s saving grace.

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