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2020: Q4 Quarterly Index
One of the sectors most heavily impacted by the pandemic was the fitness space. The inability to have large crowds indoors inherently limited the sector’s ability to reach its full offline potential. But Q4 was especially important because it marked the final point for analysis before an absolutely crucial Q1 – annually, the biggest quarter for fitness chains. So how did the sector perform?
Analyzing dozens of brands including:
Fitness Visits Recovering
Visits to the sector were down 38% year over year in Q4, but this was a huge step forward from Q3 when visits were down 50% year over year. This means that the wider sector was able to cut the visit gap by 12% in just one quarter – even with all the unique challenges it faces. And the momentum is critical heading into a crucial Q1.
While visits for the sector were down significantly, the caliber of visits increased. Visit duration was down just 2% year over year, compared to 4% a quarter earlier. This showed that while fewer visitors are returning, those that return, are coming back for the full experience. This indicates that the primary blocker to a full recovery is the continued COVID situation and not a decline in demand.
While some top brands saw visits down as much as 70% year over year, there were brands that outperformed. Workout Anytime saw visits down just 5%, and even a national giant like Planet Fitness saw visits down just 28% in Q4.
Weekends Take a Hit
The loss of routine work and school visits has clearly impacted the fitness sector. Brands in the space saw an increase in weekend visit percentage indicating that as normal work and school routines return, visit rates could rise quickly.
Gyms rely on lots of people getting together under one roof. So a pandemic that turned that necessity into a significant liability was bound to leave a negative effect on the fitness sector. Yet, the wider space has seen a strong and ongoing recovery with Q4 marking a high point compared to the quarters that preceded it. And there is reason to believe that this progress could hold, as several chains have outperformed while also driving year-over-year growth in visit duration. With a critical Q1 on the horizon, the fitness sector could produce an especially surprising and impressive turnaround.
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