The first half of 2012 started off on a positive note for the tennis industry in terms of wholesale shipments of racquets and balls, as well as retail sales for tennis racquets. While much of the success for the first half of the year was driven by a strong first quarter, the second quarter was defined by a lingering cautious optimism among tennis players and their buying habits.
According to the latest data from the quarterly TIA Census reports, wholesale shipment dollars were up in both the racquet and ball categories for the first half of 2012 versus the first half of 2011. Ball shipment and tennis racquet shipment dollars came in at 7% higher than the same period last year. In terms of unit shipments, tennis balls were up 3.7% and racquets were flat versus the first half of 2012. The increase in the dollar shipment value in both categories indicates a slightly higher price point per unit.
The strong first quarter was able to offset the minimal declines in year-over-year comparisons of wholesale shipment units of tennis racquets and balls, driving up the 2011 versus 2012 mid-year comparisons.
"In Q1 of 2012 we saw a shift in consumer spending habits, as it appeared the overall economy was starting to make a positive upward turn, however, Q2 of 2012 showed more reserved optimism we have become accustomed to over the past few years," says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. "While we're happy to see the mid-year shipments up versus 2011, we will continue to closely monitor the evolving market trends and consumers' tennis spending for the remainder of the year," de Boer adds.
Still performing well on the heels of the growing interest in the USTA's 10 and Under Tennis initiative are the shipments of the red, orange, and green tennis balls used in youth tennis play formats. Mid-year shipments of these balls were up 42% in both dollars and units compared to 2011. Youth tennis racquet shipment dollars were also up 7.2% and shipment units were up 3% in H12012 versus H12011.
"Industry involvement in growing youth tennis participation continues to mount," says de Boer, "and the industry is committed to ensuring kids end-up using the right sized equipment and we're helping promote this effort through the various distribution channels."
Specialty tennis retailers have also experienced a positive first half to 2012 in terms of tennis racquet sales. According to data from the latest TIA Retail Audit, mid-year unit sales are up 8% versus 2011 and dollar sales are up 5.6%.
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