Sears and other department stores like the retailing giant continue to increase their dominance in the home fitness equipment market. Based on an NSGA analysis of consumer purchases of three major types of exercise equipment-treadmills, exercise bikes and multi-purpose home gyms-department stores have gained, while specialty fitness stores have struggled to keep pace.

The data is contained in the NSGA report “The Sporting Goods Market in 2002,” published annually by the Association.

The only equipment that produced market share gains for specialty fitness stores over the five-year period 1997-2002 was the multi-purpose home gym. In 2002, 14.0% of consumer purchases (13.2% of units) were made at specialty fitness stores, an increase from 3.7% (3.5% of units) in 1997.

The increase came at the expense of mail order, TV shopping and discount stores, which experienced declines in share of 15.6%, 7.1% and 6.7% respectively. A relatively new channel-the Internet-has gone from no measurable share five years ago to 21.5% in 2002 (10.6% of units).

Over the five-year period, department stores experienced percent gains with all three products. The largest department store share is in treadmills, 63.4% of sales in 2002 compared to 42.1% in 1997. Department stores accounted for 27.9% of purchases of exercise bikes and 25.9% of multi-purpose home gyms.

In 2002, specialty fitness stores accounted for 11.0% of treadmill purchases (6.3% in units) versus 17.8% in 1997 (8.1% in units). For exercise bikes, specialty fitness stores accounted for 27.6% of sales (13.1% of units) in 2002, down from 37.1% in 1997 (12.2% in units).
While the higher-income households that comprise a substantial portion of the specialty fitness store’s customer base is under-represented in the survey-lowering that segment’s presence and share-the survey accurately reflects the trend over time that shows a dwindling share of sales for specialty fitness stores.

The 78-page report is prepared for NSGA by Irwin Broh & Associates, a research company nationally recognized for its work in the sports and leisure field. Cost of the report to NSGA members is $225 and $295 for non-members. The report is free to NSGA manufacturer members and sustaining retail members. Contact the NSGA Research Department for details and pricing: (847) 296-6742; e-mail:; fax: (847) 391-9827.