Tennis Retailers Optimistic About 2013 but Aware of Challenges Ahead

Tennis dealers are optimistic about the year ahead amid a challenging and evolving marketplace, according to the "Dealer Trends Report," which was recently released by the TIA to its participating partner membership. Tennis dealers have also seen a spike in consumer interest of youth tennis equipment in the past year. This  annual report serves as a barometer of dealer confidence in the industry as well as a "report card" for brands carried by the various tennis dealers across the country. The report also highlights key current issues, such as competition from online-only retailers, facing the tennis specialty retail market.

Just as the economy appeared  to be turning in the right direction towards the end of 2012, this year's report also indicates that dealers' confidence in the tennis industry equipment market, especially in the racquet category, is continuing to grow. Nearly half (46%) of the tennis dealers across the country expect their racquet sales in 2013 to increase and 51% expect the year ahead to maintain the "status quo" of 2012. In addition, 51% of dealers saw an increase in racquet sales in 2012 over 2011. Dealers who saw increases in 2012 attributed their success to better marketing and product lines from the brands they carried, better weather, and more new players. The percent of dealers expecting fewer future racquet sales for the year ahead decreased for the third consecutive year, indicating growing optimism about the future of racquet sales in their stores.

As the industry's collective efforts to grow tennis in the youth market continue to penetrate the broader base of the industry, dealers are seeing increased consumer interest in the youth equipment. In 2012, 64% of tennis specialty dealers noticed a significant spike in consumer interest of 10 and Under Tennis equipment and 50% of those same dealers are expecting the interest to be genuine and gain traction in the next 6 to 12 months.

Although specialty dealers are optimistic about the year ahead, they are aware of some key challenges that face their segment of the market moving forward. The key concern from specialty dealers in 2012 is the competition they face from online only retailers. For the past three years, approximately 90% of dealers rank this as one of the top 2 most important issues affecting their segment of the industry. A growing concern among dealers is the number of racquet models being introduced by manufacturers, in addition to consumers who are "showrooming," meaning they come into the store to view product and then go home to purchase online, often at discounted prices.

For the 2012 study, a representative panel of specialty tennis retailers across the US completed the survey to obtain the results. If you have questions about this year's Dealer Trends Study or would like more information on TIA research, email us at research@tennisindustry.org or call at 866.686.3036.