In the East South Central states (KY, TN, AL, MS), overall sporting goods store sales grew 22.6% from the 1997 Census versus total U.S. growth of 23.5% during the period. Sales for 2002 in the East South Central states reached $982 million. Of that amount, $555 million moved through full-line sporting goods stores, while $427 million moved through specialty sport shops.

Although sales in full-line sporting goods stores grew 44.5% from the 1997 Census, the number of stores declined 5.8% to 539 stores. Sales in specialty sport shops grew 2.5% while the number of shops (686) declined 9.0%. This activity is reflected in “Sales per Store” data, $1.27 million (up 53%) in full-line sporting goods stores and $622,000 (up 12%) in specialty sport shops.

“Sales per Employee,” an important measure of personnel productivity, was slightly stronger in the full line store channel of distribution. In full-line sporting goods stores, employees generated $132,300 in sales, up 25.1% from the previous Census. In specialty sport stores, employees generated $131,100 in sales (up 11.6%).

Sales in East South Central athletic footwear stores fell to $325 million in 2002, a 5.8% decrease from 1997. The number of stores (314) generating those sales rose 13%. Sales per employee declined 5.4%, to $99,000.

“Residents of the East South Central states spent less than the average American in sporting goods stores and specialty sport shops, and also in athletic footwear stores,” said NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle. “They represent 6.2% of the U.S. population, but spent 4.0% of the total dollars spent in sporting goods stores and specialty sport shops. In athletic footwear stores, they spent 4.6% of the total dollars.”

Total U.S sales in sporting goods stores, which includes full-line and specialty sports shops, rose to $25.02 billion in 2002 versus $20.04 billion in 1997.

Total U.S. sales growth was stronger in the full-line store segment, up 39% to $12.98 billion in 2002 versus $9.31 billion in 1997. Sales in specialty sports shops rose 12% to $12.05 billion versus $10.73 billion in 1997. In the previous Census of Retail, sales had grown more rapidly in specialty sports shops than in full line stores, 42% versus 35%.

Total U.S sales in athletic footwear stores reached $7.1 billion, a 21.5% increase from the $5.85 billion reported in the 1997 Census. The 1997 Census had shown a 66.5% increase over the previous census (1992).