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Scooters and skates: newest rage for extremely cheap gas powered scooters

Clearly the rage for scooters was the retail phenomenon of 2000. Millions of the sleek, aluminum two-wheelers were snapped up by trend-conscious youngsters at prices ranging from $45 to $150 or more. For the Christmas 2000 season, scooters were the hot item, with the media comparing them to the hula hoop, Cabbage Patch Kids and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Razor USA said it expected to ship five million by the end of the year. Huffy Corp., which distributes the Micro and X Games brands, estimated that a total of eight million scooters of all kinds were sold at retail in 2000, with retail dollar volume for scooters and accessories totaling $500 million.

The questions on everyone’s mind were: How long can this last? Is it a fad or a new category? Are these things even sporting goods?

Clearly scooters have not inflamed the imagination of the industry at large. Asked to name the "hottest" activities for 2001, participants in a Sporting Goods Manufactuers Association (SGMA) survey ranked scooters in a tie for fifth place with baseball. One view is that winter will kill enthusiasm in many parts of the U.S. You can’t scooter in the snow, some say.

One industry opinion is that scooters are following the patterns set by skateboards and inline skates: a furious run-up in sales followed by an inevitable decline. But when the dust settles, a new category of wheeled goods may be created. Some manufacturers don’t agree the category will crash after the holidays. They believe the rage will carry over into 2001 before abating, with sales approximately the same as in 2000. Huffy, for example, is planning for the longer term, shipping new three- and four-wheeled versions that permit aggressive riding and stunts.

Inline skating, meanwhile, experienced continued declines in participation and sales, attributable in part to the scooter phenomenon. In 1990, according to American Sports Data, about 4.7 million Americans participated in inline skating, a number that soared to about 32 million in 1997 and then declined to 28 million in 1999. While this is still a remarkably high figure, it does not accurately reflect sales trends, which have been declining since 1996 at a more rapid rate. The reason: you don’t need new skates every year, municipalities have banned skating on sidewalks, and skaters can become injury-prone without proper protective equipment and carefulness while skating. Making matters worse, there has been an oversupply of product for several years, driving down prices and profits.

Mirroring the trend in inline skating, street hockey participation also dropped in 1999, according to American Sports Data. About two million youngsters play this game.

About 65% of all inline skaters are 17 or younger, an age group known for its susceptibility to enthusiasms such as scooters. In 1993, 44% of participants had been involved for a year or less. In 1999, only 17% were new to the sport.

SGMA estimates that manufacturers’ sales of inline skates were about $270 million in 2000, well below the peak of $625 million in 1996, and that sales will decline another 5.5% in 2001.

This is the tenth in a series of excerpts from the 2001 SGMA State of the Industry Report (courtesy of The Nasdaq Market Group), which was released on January 22 during The Super Show®/2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), owner of The Super Show®, is the trade association of North American manufacturers, producers, and distributors of sports apparel, athletic footwear, fitness, and sporting goods equipment. SGMA represents and supports its members through programs and strategies for sports participation, market intelligence and public policy.

For more information, see motorized scooters.

Author Notes:

Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.the-scooters-report.com.  Find all kinds of mopeds, electric, gas and motorized scooters online plus parts and accessories.

 
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