The sporting goods space had a particularly strong 2021 as consumers stocked up on home workout equipment during the pandemic. With fitness foot traffic on the rise, we dove into the visit data for two leading sporting goods brands – DICK’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports – and took a closer look at the trends driving brick-and-mortar visits to the chains.
Though offline fitness has returned, year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visits to DICK’s and Hibbett demonstrate that the chains are maintaining their pandemic-driven gains.
Hibbett in particular is showing particularly strong visit growth, with July 2022 visits up 29.5% Yo3Y and 9.7% year-over-year (YoY). The brand’s offline success seems largely driven by its well-positioned brick-and-mortar stores – SVP and chief merchant, Jared Briskin, pointed to the chain’s focus on “underserved consumer[s] in underserved markets,” referring to the chain’s predominantly suburban locations. CEO and President, Michael Longo elaborated that he believes a significant factor in Hibbett Sports’ success is that approximately 70% of stores face little or no local competition. The company also acquired City Gear in late 2018, along with a slew of new brick-and-mortar locations in the Midwest, and adopted City Gear’s community-centered culture – complete with sneaker release and back-to-school parties.
Hibbett’s foot traffic is also likely bolstered by the chain’s significant fleet optimization and omnichannel initiatives. The company invested in store remodeling in 2021 and launched a new boutique-style store format designed for ease of navigation and to highlight new product releases. The stores feature phone charging stations, buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS), and curbside pick-up – omnichannel staples that drive brick-and-mortar visits.
Meanwhile, Yo3Y visits to DICK’s Sporting Goods stores were up almost every month since March, with July 2022 up 2.7% relative to July 2019. And aside from its namesake brand, DICK’s operates a largely successful ecosystem of brick-and-mortar stores, including Golf Galaxy, Field & Stream, Public Lands, and House of Sport – each offering a unique in-store journey. DICK’s House of Sport, for instance, is a larger-than-life chain both physically and in terms of the customer experience, and offers professional consultations, a putting green, and a 20,000 sq.ft soccer and track field that can be converted to hockey rink in the winter.
Analysis of monthly YoY visits should take into account not only the unusually positive trends in 2021, but also the significant advancements in omnichannel strategy by both DICK’s and Hibbett – and the fact that foot traffic numbers don’t reflect digital sales.
However, a back-to-school boost in July appears to be sparking an upward YoY trend for DICK’s. The fact that DICK’s is maintaining pandemic gains in the Yo3Y comparison, while trending upward YoY, is a positive sign for the sporting goods leader.
Analysis of weekly visit data shows positive year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) foot traffic trends for DICK’s and Hibbett. Since mid-July 2022, both brands are ramping up in the midst of a highly successful Back-to-School season. Yo3Y visits for the week of August 8th, 2022 were up 4.0% for DICK’s and 54.9% for Hibbett Sports.
Year-over-year (YoY) growth for DICK’s and Hibbett is less dramatic, likely due to the unusually strong 2021 comparison in terms of foot traffic. Still, both brands benefited from a back-to-school boost. Between the weeks of July 11th and August 8th, DICK’s YoY weekly visit gap more than halved to just 6.6%, and Hibbett’s YoY weekly visits shot up by 10 percentage points to 10.8%.
DICK’s Dynasty in Sporting Goods
Though DICK’s Sporting Goods YoY and Yo3Y visit numbers are less dramatic than Hibbett’s, it’s not easy for DICK’s to post exponential growth as the retailer is consistently the visit share and revenue leader. In Q2 2022 DICK’s Sporting Goods claimed 53.6% of the total visits to comparable brands in the sporting goods space.
The company’s success is likely a function of its significant omnichannel investments. During the pandemic, DICK’s upgraded its digital platforms to allow customers to shop across all sites and apps with one login. This facilitated online shopping between departments that mirrored the in-store experience. DICK’s also developed omnichannel services such as curbside pick-up, and these short visits are not fully accounted for in the brick-and-mortar foot traffic numbers.
Steve Miller, DICK’s SVP of Strategy, E-commerce, and Analytics stated that the company’s investments in building out their digital services enables them to “deliver seamless experiences across channels, and drive a mass personalization effort that covers millions of customers.” These omnichannel initiatives increase online engagement, and ultimately enhance the customer experience in-store.
Visit data for DICK’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports shows positive foot traffic trends this Back-to-School season.
Customers continue to be drawn to in-store experiences and community, and a strong brick-and-mortar presence appears to be a winning strategy to drive visits to the chains. Nonetheless, DICK’s retains its status as a visit share leader in the sporting goods space.
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