Friday, December 12, 2008

Sports & The Economy: Local Businesses Not Hurt Yet

Ski Shops, Gun Stores, Health Clubs Still Hum Along
“The weather, New Year's resolutions and the recent presidential election have helped shield local sports-related businesses from the fallout of the receding economy. Big-ticket items such as skiing and hunting equipment and gym memberships are not experiencing declining sales despite economic hardships. The tennis program at Sportsplex in New Windsor couldn't be busier, and the guns are flying off the shelves at Gander Mountain in the Town of Wallkill. Sportsplex is also seeing similar success to last year. The health club usually has a lull during the holidays, but business picks up again in January when people are looking to unload those extra pounds. Sportsplex sales director Iris Hulse said membership sales have been up until this month, and the tennis program is extremely popular. A Sportsplex health club membership is $74 a month for an individual, and $94 a month for a comprehensive package that includes tennis privileges. Hulse added that former members that left to join Planet Fitness, which cost just $15, have come back to join Sportsplex. ‘We really haven't been affected by it,’ Hulse said. ‘This December has been slower, but I was expecting to see a whole lot worse. We're not seeing a considerable drop.’ ‘Tennis people are a special breed because they are devoted to it no matter what, and will cut corners in other ways.’ Christy Caridi, the director of the bureau of economic research at Marist College, said there were two possible explanations why certain businesses are not experiencing economic cutbacks. When people are stressed, Caridi said, they tend to be more physical and it's a normal behavioral response. Secondly, people who are still employed, not in debt and not carrying huge mortgages might be proceeding with life as normal. ‘It's a form of trading down,’ Caridi said. ‘It's like, 'We can't go on that Caribbean vacation this year, so we'll join a gym or go skiing for a couple of days instead.'”

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