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Celebrating National Public Lands Day: When do sporting goods stores make the most money?

September 16, 2019

In this six minute read:

  • The busy (and slow) seasons for campgrounds, landmarks, and sporting goods stores
  • How much do sporting goods stores make?
  • What days of the week are sporting goods stores busiest?
  • The biggest days of the year for sporting goods stores (and where Public Lands Day moves the needle)
  • How to use specialty days like National Public Lands Day to attract more customers to your store

Did you know National Public Lands Day is almost here? The holiday—which always falls on the 4th Saturday of September—was founded by a group of volunteers and several federal agencies, to celebrate and encourage volunteerism.

And it’s not just another “made up” day on par with days like National Toothbrush Day, either. No, National Public Lands Day is actually a “free entry” day at many federal lands and parks across the country. Making it a prime post-summer weekend to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

This naturally got us thinking about local businesses in the outdoor industry. When are local sporting goods stores, campgrounds, and landmarks the busiest? How much do local sporting goods stores make on a given day, and when are their busiest days of the year? And does National Public Lands Day actually move the needle for local outdoor retail businesses?

We analyzed credit card transaction data at local businesses in the outdoors industry from across the country to answer these questions and more.

What time of year are sporting goods stores, campgrounds, and landmarks/monuments busiest?

We first wondered what time of year was the biggest for local businesses in camping and outdoor industries. So we examined the total number of card transactions processed each week of the year at the following businesses: campgrounds, monuments and landmarks, and sporting goods stores.

As you can see, campgrounds experienced the greatest seasonality of the three types of businesses, with the vast majority of transactions coming in between May and early August. Things then drop off quickly with the end of summer break.

Sporting goods stores, meanwhile, experience more steady sales throughout the year, as transactions rise moderately during spring and summer, drop slightly during the fall, and then skyrocket during the holiday shopping season.

Finally, monuments and landmarks start the year much slower, then climb to a much more consistent level. Like campgrounds, their first big spike comes over Memorial Day weekend. Landmarks and monuments also appear to actually benefit from school going back in session, likely thanks to students on field trips arriving by the busload.

How much do sporting goods stores make on an average day throughout the year?

The chart above is helpful in letting us know the busy times of year for campgrounds, monuments, and sporting goods stores, but we wanted to dive deeper.

As we examined the data, it became clear that daily revenue at campgrounds is much different than most other businesses. Campgrounds in our analysis bring the vast majority of their monthly income in on the first day of each month. This suggests that—particularly for customers paying by card—our analysis was over-representing long-term stays paid out on a monthly basis.

We feel confident about the chart above telling us which times of year are busiest at local campgrounds. But we decided to  focus the rest of our analysis solely on sporting goods stores.

We started by looking at the average number of transactions on a given day throughout the year, what the average ticket price was per transaction, and how much revenue the average sporting goods store brought in. Here’s what we found:

On average, the average sporting goods store we analyzed brought in about $1,082 in revenue per-day. Looking even closer, they averaged around 11 transactions per-day at $102.20 per ticket.

Of course, sporting goods stores can vary wildly depending on the type of store. They can range from big-box style “we sell everything” shops all the way to hyper-specific specialty shops.

The busiest sporting goods stores in our study processed well over 50 transactions on average per day, while some of the slower shops averaged only a couple of transactions per day.

Average ticket, as you might expect, can also vary wildly depending on the type of good each store sells. Several of the stores in our analysis had an average ticket price in the $500 to $1,000 range, while plenty of others had an average ticket price of under $30.

What are the biggest days of the week for sporting goods stores

The numbers above give a good look at the average overall day, but let’s now break down the average week:

Consumer spending at sporting goods stores is highest on Fridays and Saturdays. 37% of annual revenue comes in on those two days alone. An average of only 51% of sporting goods stay open on Sundays, making it easily the slowest overall a day of the week.

When we examine what each day of the week looks like among the sporting goods stores open on those days, however, we see a slightly different story.

Average transactions are easily highest on Saturdays (15) and Sundays (14), while foot traffic is significantly slower on weekdays. Consumers spend much more per-ticket on weekdays, with Tuesdays being the biggest day of the week by average ticket price at $115.32.

Spending goes down as foot traffic goes up during the weekends, though, with Sundays seeing the lowest average ticket price of the week.

Put simply: weekdays are a little slower but customers tend to spend a bit more. Weekends are much busier, with customers buying lower-priced items.

What are the biggest days of the year for sporting goods stores?

Now that we’ve seen the busiest days of the week and the busiest times of the year, let’s examine the single-biggest days of the year.

To do this, we looked at the total number of dollars spent at sporting goods stores on each day of the year and compared that figure to the average throughout the year.

Here’s what we found:

The holiday shopping season, as you might expect, dominates the top 5 days of the year. Consumer spending at sporting goods stores more than doubled on Black Friday, making it easily the biggest day of the year. The Friday and Saturday before Christmas were the second and third biggest days, proving last-minute holiday shopping was also huge.

Father’s Day also moved the needle significantly for sporting goods shops. The day before the holiday was the 5th biggest day of the year overall (the Friday before Father’s Day was the 7th biggest day of the year as well).

Where did Public Lands Day move the needle for local sporting goods Stores?

As we mentioned to start this article, National Public Lands Day is a federal parks “no-fee” day. So you’d be safe to assume many parks and lands see an increase in campers (particularly for late-September).

So the last thing we wanted to examine, then, was whether or not the promise of free entrance to federal parks and lands on National Public Lands Day resulted in big increases in sales for local sporting goods stores.

To do this, we examined each state and compared total consumer spending at sporting goods stores during National Public Lands Day and compared it to the annual average.

As you can see, several states saw big increases during National Public Lands Day. It’s important to remember, however, that Fridays and Saturdays are generally larger than the average day. Meaning some of this may be more of a factor of typical Friday or Saturday and not a surge in sales thanks to the promise of a “no-fee” day at nearby federal lands or parks.

With that said, it’s hard to ignore Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and New York. Total revenue in all three states more than doubled on National Public Lands Day compared to the annual average.

If you own or manage a sporting goods store, you might want to consider using National Public Lands Day or other “no-fee” days to attract customers to your store.

How to use special holidays to attract business to your sporting goods or outdoor supplies store

The busiest time of year is still coming up for local sporting goods and outdoor supplies stores. But, as we just outlined, you don’t need to wait for the traditional busy seasons to attract customers to your store.

Holidays like National Public Lands Day, or similar days that offer special discounts or free entry to parks and lands, can easily be used to attract customers and generate sales.

So plan ahead, follow some of the tips from our 4 crucial steps to building an effective small business marketing plan, and get the word out about your shop to anyone looking to spend time outdoors on National Public Lands Day (and similar holidays).

Check out a few of our helpful guides for retail shop owners:

Finally, check out how Womply’s reputation management software helps make all this easier while saving you time and money. Sign up for a free demo below to see how Womply has helped businesses like yours increase revenue by 20%, see 22% more repeat customers, and save 10 hours of time per week.

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