The economic forecast for the holiday season is good, with the National Retail Federation predicting a record-high amount of spending in the U.S.In fact, the current forecast shows an increase of about 4 percent over that of last year, with total spending expected to reach more than $727 billion. In fact, an estimated 165.3 million peopleare likely to shop throughout the five-day holiday blitz between Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
And part of their spending will come in the form of sports – including not just apparel but tickets to events (including out-of-town competitions requiring travel).
Harnessing the power of the holidays for sports events isn’t anything news. With schools closing for approximately two weeks bracketing the holiday season, youth tournaments have proliferated in basketball and football. But by far, the most well-attended events held across the U.S. are 5Ks, fun runs and walks.
The weekend before Christmas is traditionally a gold mine for retailers – however, it’s not quite as big for this side of the industry. Savvy event directors know people are tapped out, financially as the month stretches on, and are unlikely to be enthusiastic about the prospect of committing money to something personal. In fact, later in the month, the number of 5Ks and other fun runs drops off sharply, according to Running In The USA. And many people are just plain uninspired to exercise. They’ll start up the first of the year; hence the popularity of New Year’s Resolution runs, walks, tennis blitzes and more. (Those first few weekends are also great times for recruiting new participants.)
And it’s obviously working; these statistics bear it out:
4,000-plus: Number of foot races listed on Running In The USAthat are scheduled between the last weekend in November and the weekend after Christmas (and before New Year’s), as of press time. Many use terms like Jingle Bell, St. Nick, Santa, Holiday and Mistletoe.
There is an enormous drop-off in events toward the end of the month, but they pick up starting starting on and around New Year’s Eve and have names that use the words, Resolution, New Year and New Start.
60: Percentage of U.S. shoppers who spend money on themselves during past holidays (including purchases of sporting goods), according to the National Retail Federation
19: Percentage of gifts to others that are sports-related (including sporting goods and tickets to sports events), according to the NRF.
So what actually works to bring in people? Here are a few hints:
- Form partnerships with local sporting goods stores (independent running shoe stores or tennis pro shops, for example) and hold pre-event activities in order to satisfy the ‘shop local’ crowd.
- Play on the bucket-list image: market events as a milestone, a girls’ weekend away, a man-cation (or for kids, an event adjacent to a theme park could be attractive as a gift)
- For events on or after the first of the year, get the New Year’s Resolution crowd excited in participating in something that welcomes beginners (or even offers a special category for them)
- Stay away from dates late in the month of December since more people are overcommitted, less moneyed and undermotivated
Properly presented, an event can be the most wonderful time of the year. Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice to make sure you’re doing all you can to promote it.