After more than a year of lockdowns and COVID-related lifestyle restrictions, consumers’ pent-up demand and desire to play again could be seen in a trio of sports-related forecasts Friday (May 7).
From footwear and apparel to gym memberships to rising attendance at major sporting events, the get-back-in-the game trend is fully in play and making its way to the bottom line of myriad businesses.
“We are fast out of the gate in the first year of our new strategic cycle, with excellent revenue growth, DTC-led sales increases in all market segments and strong profitability improvements,” Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted told investors Friday. “We upgrade our full-year outlook as we are now even more confident about a strong top-line recovery this year, even though the environment is not yet back to normal.”
At the same time, Planet Fitness said it added 600,000 new members last quarter at its more than 2,100 gyms.
“We are very encouraged by the clear and steady improvement in overall sentiment we witnessed in America during the first quarter and the corresponding impact it had on our business,” CEO Chris Rondeau said, noting the eclipse of the 14 million member milestone.
“We believe that the positive headline news on COVID-19 vaccine availability drove a seasonality shift in our membership trends as March membership growth exceeded March 2019, reinforcing our belief that people are eager to get back into our gyms,” he added.
Even those who prefer to watch sports and bet on games are delivering fresh demand, as seen in the increased forecast of sports-betting firm DraftKings.
“DraftKings is off to an outstanding start in 2021,” CEO Jason Robins said of the Boston-based firm’s first-quarter results, noting a 114 percent increase in monthly unique payers and an increased full-year forecast.
“We are raising our revenue outlook for 2021 due to the outperformance of our core business in the first quarter and our expectation for continued healthy growth,” DraftKings CFO Jason Park said.
Not Fully Out Of The Woods
This spate of sports optimism underscores a broader retail rebound trend that is posing challenges for eCommerce businesses seeing the record click-rates they experienced during the pandemic start to slow down. At the same time, traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores and restaurants are experiencing a surge in traffic as consumers — at least momentarily — are increasingly choosing to go out to shop and eat in physical locations again.
While the international fight against COVID continues to face hot spots in countries such as India, the domestic war against the deadly virus is improving. Even so, each of these sports-linked look-aheads was couched in caution that the pandemic, and its impact on the economy, were still not a “slam-dunk” conclusion.
“Although external uncertainties remain elevated, 2021 will be a successful year for Adidas,” Rorsted said. “The return of major sport events gives us the opportunity to showcase our brand in front of billions of consumers and we look forward to welcoming them back at our stores in all parts of the world.”
“While we anticipate the operating environment to remain volatile in the near term,” Rondeau said, the membership and usage trends Planet Fitness is currently experiencing “enhance my optimism for our long-term growth.”
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