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Skates, ‘boards, scooters: sales down on electric scooter 15mph but participation steady

The skating segment has been troubled for several years by an oversupply of product.

Inline skating continued its transition from the red-hot sport of the 1990s to one of the more popular activities of the early 21st century. With 29 million participants in 2000 (down from a high of 32 million in 1998), inline skating is not attracting enough new participants to maintain sales levels achieved when first-time skaters were pouring into the sport.

The skating segment has been troubled for several years by an oversupply of product. Although innovation has continued, many skaters seem satisfied with the performance and durability of the skates they own and are proving difficult to lure into the store for a trial run with the latest models. Finally, sales of inline skates may have been hurt during the past two years by the fad for scooters and the resurgence of skateboarding.

As a result of all this, the International Inline Skating Association estimates that sales of skates and accessories fell about 10% in 2001 to $230 million (at wholesale). The market is expected to remain weak until the economy improves. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) estimates that wholesale sales in 2002 will fall to about $200 million.

Inline skating seems to have established itself as a permanent part of the American sports landscape. Indeed, it was voted into eighth place as a likely hot sport of 2002 by participants in SGMA's State of the Industry Survey. Part of the reason may be its position as the king of the "extreme," or alternative, sports and its strong appeal to young people. The average inline skater is about 18 years old; the average frequent participant 15.

Extreme sports have moved into the mainstream. In 2000, more boys aged 6 to 17 went skateboarding (7.5 million) than played baseball (6.9 million). Television coverage of major competitions and events continues to grow. Major consumer product companies are creating promotions linked to extreme sports and top professional athletes are winning increased exposure and sponsorship money.

Perhaps more important, extreme sports have developed an infrastructure. More than 600 public skate parks and playground areas have been opened in the past two years, according to USA Today.

Summer camps have opened for young extreme sports enthusiasts and the Disney Company is backing a plan to create a national chain of such camps. Efforts to organize these sports won't please everyone. Part of the appeal of extreme sports is their "outlaw" image and the fact that they offer self-expression and freedom from adult supervision.

At the end of 2000, scooters were all the rage. Between 8 and 12 million scooters were purchased in a buying frenzy that lasted only a few months. There was speculation that a new wheeled category was being created. But the bubble burst in January, and scooter sales fell to almost nothing, Reuters reported in December 2001.

This is the tenth in a series of excerpts from the 2002 SGMA State of the Industry Report,which was released on January 20 during The Super Show®/20-02 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 electric motor 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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