Tennis Industry magazine


Retailing Tip: Futures Market

As we head into the new year, tennis retailers should consider these guidelines and trends.

By Jay Townley

What will the future hold for tennis pro shop and specialty retailers? There is a lot of uncertainty churning in the marketplace, and about a third of American consumers say they have concerns about the future. But despite this, we’ve still seen economic growth and overall increases in consumer spending at retail.

For specialty retailers, though, there are some simple guidelines you’ll want to consider as we enter the new year:

Stocking up on more merchandise may not work anymore.

“An increasing number of retailers are learning that having more products won’t necessarily win over customers,” according to a trends and predictions article from the retail trade site Vend. “Shoppers these days are already overwhelmed with too many choices, so widening your range can sometimes do more harm than good.”

This could be one reason why “we’ve seen a rise in subscription services that curate products for customers,” the Vend piece says. “Such services make it easier for customers to discover and select products, thus saving them time and preventing decision fatigue.”

Chris Peterson of Integrated Marketing Solutions adds, “Retailers that seem to be winning are the ones that curate assortments … carefully selecting the top styles, showing the top models, or offering a showcase of ‘good, better, best’ instead of trying to stock every color or every single SKU.”

Expect more small and medium-size specialty retailers to follow a similar path. They’ll win over customers not because they have the widest selection, but because they have the best and most relevant assortments for their target market, and they’re able to deliver those products to each individual customer.

Consumers want to buy an experience.

In a recent survey, 32 percent of consumers say they are interested in attending classes or lessons at retail stores.

According to Rieva Lesonsky, a columnist for the website Small Business Trends, “U.S. shoppers recently said they are most interested in health or fitness classes (29 percent) … and learning from experts (20 percent). In addition, 17 percent are interested in clubs that meet at retail stores.”

There may be opportunities here for tennis retailers to attract more shoppers and store traffic. Can you or your employees teach a class or present to consumers an aspect of the sport or equipment? Can you work with a local teaching pro to help bring shoppers to the store?

Omni-channel will be integrated into every aspect of retail.

Moving forward, all the sources that predict retail trends are saying a key focus for U.S. retailers in 2017 — no matter what industry they are in or how simple or complicated their operations are — will be omni-channel. Bringing online and brick-and-mortar together is important in every facet of retail because that is what the consumer has made it clear they want. Is your retail operation ready?

Jay Townley is a partner in the retail consulting firm Gluskin Townley Group (



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