Athleisure Will Be an $83B Market By 2020, But Only the Strongest Will Survive

Many of today's women are trading in their favorite denim and their tried and true summer dresses and business apparel for… yoga pants and mesh tees? It's true. Over the last few years, the "athleisure" trend has gotten hot. Just so hot that many small retailers have ditched long-time, reliable staples to pick up versatile lines of yoga pants, comfy tees, and designer tank tops that many women wear to run their errands, meet friends for coffee, or maybe even use for a yoga or cycling class.

The craze caught on fire thanks to many innovators and leaders in the space like Lululemon, Lucy, Athleta, and countless others—some even inspired by celebrities, like Carrie Underwood's brand. Let's take a look at CNBC's numbers (thanks to The NPD Group) supporting this cash cow trend:

  • Athleisure was almost a $46 billion market in the U.S. in 2016
  • The market is expected to double, reaching $83 billion, by 2020
  • Globally, by 2020, athleisure should be a $350 billion market

Too Many Brands On the Athleisure Bandwagon

As retailers of all sizes know very well, some things are just too good to be true. And unfortunately for many small retailers, jumping on the women's athleisure bandwagon may just turn out to be one of those hard lessons. Just this week, CNBC reported that Dick's Sporting Goods said it would close its standalone Chelsea Collective stores.

But it's not because the athleisure trend is already dying out. Why, then? So many retailers got caught up in the trend and started carrying brands that significant over-saturation has occurred, which has led to several brands already closing their doors, with more to likely follow. CNBC predicts that just a few of the large brands (many with their own stores) will be able to fend off the competition and remain competitive.

Small Retailers Are Stuck Holding The Bag

If you operate a standalone retail business or even several specialty retail shops, then you might have jumped head on into the athleisure craziness, adding new inventory to your existing array of sports equipment, running shoes, or apparel. You've been burned in the past by trends that promise big sales and even bigger revenue. And while athleisure isn't going away anytime soon, many retailers like you are getting burned by prominent direct to consumer brands that have their own store locations or sell exclusive items online (such as Nike) or by brands that were created for a specific store (like Target's C9 Champion).

There's not enough demand to go around, so who's left out to dry? The small retailers that carry specialty athleisure brands, of course. But if you jumped on the bandwagon only to regret it after months of slow sales and piled up inventory that just won't move, all hope isn't lost.

4 Tips To Move Your Athleisure Inventory

Many small business retailers have begun taking advantage of low cost/no cost tools that can help them move their inventory faster and with little effort. Here are a few tips to try at your store:

  1. Promote excess inventory and sale events using Instagram and create a promoted post targeting women in your regional area who are interested in an active lifestyle.
  2. Use Snap to do short walk throughs of your store highlighting products you have that differentiate you from big athleisure brands like Lululemon and Athleta.
  3. Use Facebook ads targeting the demographics of women 18 - 50 with a household income of $80,000, who like to stay active, have kids, and are in close proximity to your store.
  4. Invite a yoga instructor to your store (or to a nearby park) and hold a weekly class for women, focused on balancing life; offer a 10% discount for anyone that makes a purchase in a set time period (within a week, for instance).

Still have inventory left, even after you've tried seemingly everything? Don't worry, there are solutions that can help.

Inventory Just Keeps Aging? There's a Solution

Online marketplaces can help retailers find a better way to sell underperforming merchandise and get cash to reinvest in top performing items. These marketplaces work by connecting retailers with thousands of buyers to generate new demand for their products. For example, you'll initially sell the inventory for a loss on your cost, but after the first turn of the new merchandise you buy, you'll realize a net profit. Interested in seeing how a solution like this could help your business? You can calculate the profit potential of your aged inventory here.

For more resources to help retailers minimize price erosion from markdown inventory and gain immediate cash flow to invest in new merchandise, check out these additional resources or sign-up to start selling or buying today.


Inventory Reinvestment Calculator


Optimize Your Clearance Sales to Sell Excess Inventory

Best Practices For Managing Retail Inventory

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