Sports Insight

January / February 2019

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Taking the Pulse of the Running Market in 2019 B Y C A R A G R I F F I N Specialty Running Retailers Sound Off on Key Issues for 2019. RUNNING 10 • Sports Insight January/February 2019 2019 Standouts: Altra's Vanish-XC, MSRP $80, is a super-light cross- country flat that allows for customized lacing patterns. Hoka One One's Rincon, MSRP $115, packs lots of cushion into a lightweight package. What do you see as the biggest challenges impacting the running retail business in 2019? "The biggest challenge in 2019 will be the growing competition that we see with our own vendors from their websites. As long as they play fair, and not play the price card that we cannot compete against, we will be fine. Flash sales and deep discounting from our suppliers hurts us tremendously. It conditions the customer to never pay full retail and instead just wait for the next super sale. It also plants the seed in the mind of our customers that we are overcharging them for our products." Perry Slaughter, Run Fit Sports (GA) "The biggest challenge impacting the specialty running retail channel is direct-to-consumer. Although brands say only a small percentage of people buy on their websites, I am not totally buying it. Even if it's a small percentage, it is a growing percentage and brands are invest- ing more and more in it. Why wouldn't they? We need to figure out a better way for brands' e-commerce businesses and run specialty brick-and-mortar to coexist and thrive together in the same channel." Nicholas Stanko, Ann Arbor Running Company "MAP programs and shipping costs. [Brands] can direct [consumers] to [specialty] stores and not their website. Online vendor stores offer cus- tomers the opportunity to buy shoes now/at once and get free shipping. Meanwhile, we retailers write orders six months in advance and we pay our freight and theirs... it seems." Mike Shuman, Shu's Idaho Running Company "Speed. We're the path of most resistance to the consumer. If they choose to spend their time shopping brick-and-mortar we need to be able to deliver the product immediately, and if we don't have it we need to be able to deliver it in two days to their doorstep for free. We need to work with the vendors to help expedite the process — it's a win for both of us." Jeff Metzdorff, Mill City Running (MN)

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