Industry Snapshot: Sales up Y-T-D
Racquet sales at pro/specialty were up 6% in units and 8% in dollars year-to-date through the second quarter 2010, compared to the same six months last year. However, growing caution may affect the marketplace with the recent announcement by the Conference Board that, despite three months of increases, the Consumer Confidence Index declined sharply in June.
At wholesale, 2nd quarter racquet shipments saw a slight decrease, however there was a 7.4% increase in wholesale racquet dollars for the second quarter, indicating a growing trend in performance racquet demand and increasing price points. Tennis ball shipments year to date were up 1.6% in units and 2.7% in dollars.
Consumer and player research also indicate that consumers are demanding more tennis through technology, online searches and internet purchases are up, people are watching more tennis on TV, and play at tennis facilities is steadily increasing, as is league play. In addition, 69% of facilities surveyed are now using the QuickStart Tennis format to introduce kids 10 and under into the game, up 7% from late season ‘09.
More people appear to be following the game on TV and on broadband, according to numbers from ESPN and Tennis Channel. TV viewers for the Grand Slams on ESPN2 have been fairly consistent from year to year, with increases in 2010 over 2009 for the Australian and French Opens and a slight decrease for Wimbledon. In addition, from 2003 through 2009, Tennis Channel increased the number of hours of tennis programming 450%.
Broadband viewership on ESPN3 went up dramatically in the past year—the Australian Open on ESPN3 was up 424% from the year before and Wimbledon coverage was up 163%. Over a million unique viewers watched the action from London via ESPN3.com.
Perhaps one of the best indicators of a greater demand for tennis through technology is continued growth in use of the GrowingTennis System at growingtennis.com, where facilities and teaching pros can list their events, programs, and facility info for free. That information is then searchable through consumer and industry sites, such as USTA.com, Tennis.com, TennisChannel.com, CardioTennis.com, and more. Each month, there are more than 4 million consumer queries on the GrowingTennis System.
For one tennis provider, the free GrowingTennis System has been bringing in huge rewards. In June, the Family Tennis Academy in Florence, KY, had 592 consumer inquiries for programming via the various partner searches. Tennis Director Manny Iglesias updates his programs on the GT System so consumers can find out what’s going on and sign up. For Iglesias, the online system maximizes his reach into the community, with very little effort and no expense.
In addition to the GrowingTennis System, year-to-date there have been more than a million online court reservations made via TennisConnect, the industry’s facility management software product.
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