Sports Authority Customers Are Shopping Somewhere, Not Sporting Goods Stores

Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

Where did Sports Authority’s customers go? The sporting goods retailer filed for bankruptcy almost a year ago, closing all of its stores by the end of the summer. However, other retailers in this sector are puzzled because the Sports Authority customers who, in theory, should have taken their business to the competition have apparently just stopped buying sporting goods.

Where did they go? Experts aren’t sure, but it probably depends on what they were shopping for. The trade publication Footwear News has an obvious focus, and it notes that sales of sneakers and more specialized athletic shoes were already falling before Sports Authority closed its doors.

Over the last year since the chain filed for bankruptcy protection, the market for running shoes has in particular shrank. An analyst with The NPD Group pointed out that lower sales were “primarily caused by the absence of The Sports Authority — nowhere was this void felt more than in running footwear, which declined 8 percent.”

Are people really that impulsive? Do we not buy running shoes until we see a physical display in a store? That seems unlikely to a layperson, but retail experts told Footwear News that they’re waiting for former Sports Authority customers to switch their spending over to Dick’s Sporting Goods once it completes its assimilation of the former Sports Authority brand.

Dick’s took over the intellectual property of its failed competitor, and also bought a few dozen of its leases out of bankruptcy.

Maybe that business is gone, though. Maybe people are buying their sports supplies from Amazon, and their sneakers from Amazon-owned Zappos and never coming back. We might see more closures and failures of lesser sporting goods stores and chains.

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