The 15 most popular leisure activities among women 18 years and older for the past 12 months.
This story first appeared in the March 20, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Shopping is conspicuously missing from this list. That could be because many women consider it a chore rather than a pastime. Tennis is also absent, despite the ubiquitous, attention-grabbing styles worn by pros such as Venus and Serena Williams. But there are still plenty of other opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to tap. Women may be waiting for fashion-forward fly-fishing apparel or flattering clothes to wear around the campfire.
52 percent of women cited this as their favorite leisure activity
Baby Boomers have been cultivating the growth of the gardening industry, which reached $46 billion in 2001, according to trade industry groups. Apparel manufacturers could tap into this burgeoning market with functional, nonfrumpy duds for digging around in the dirt.
Swimwear manufacturers looking to grab a bigger share of the $2 billion-plus business would do well to listen to consumers. While many suits look like they were made for Sports Illustrated babes, a 2001 Dupont consumer survey found that 75 percent of women want styles with tummy control that will take 10 pounds off their physiques.
Consumers spent $15 billion on gear for amateur photography in the U.S. in 2000. While there’s no “uniform” for weekend shutterbugs, the fashion industry could ignite interest in Margaret Bourke White’s utilitarian uniform of khaki waistecoats and pants.
The number of bicycles sold each year has hovered around 11 million. But total spending on bicycles, parts and accessories grew to $5.9 billion in 2000 from $5.5 billion in 1999, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association.?Cyclists have money to spend. The average price of a mountain bike was more than $500 last year.
Bowling is a $4 billion industry with more than 55 million people playing at least one game in 2001. It’s the biggest participatory sport in the country, yet it’s been losing core business at an alarming rate since 1990. While league participation is down for men, women are gravitating toward the alleys.
Trend-watchers have noted the increasing popularity of cocooning-friendly vacations since Sept. 11. First and foremost among these is camping. Companies such as Recreational Equipment Inc. have seen annual sales grow from $1.8 million in 1966 to $740 million today. That’s a lot of jackets, long underwear and socks.
ADULT CONTINUING EDUCATION
Distance learning has enabled anyone with a keyboard and a mouse to go to school. Boomers and seniors make up a large population of back-to-schoolers, delving into thousands of courses from computer literacy to wine-tasting. These adults are curious, intelligent and possessed of discretionary income.
Brands such as Adidas and Reebok are paying attention to form as well as function when it comes to footwear. According to research by the NPD Group, walking-shoe sales reached $1.2 billion in 2001. Retailers say the customers behind those dollars have evolved into a mixed bag of older, health-conscious women, new moms and younger, race-oriented walkers.
Fishing isn’t just for craggy, weatherbeaten men anymore. Women are hooked. The pastime appeals to all socioeconomic groups, including the wealthy. Resorts such as The Tincup Wilderness Lodge, a fly-in angling and wilderness getaway in the heart of the western Yukon, are capitalizing on this interest by hosting fly-fishing retreats for women.
FREE WEIGHTS/CIRCUIT TRAINING
Kinder, gentler fitness programs are gaining in popularity, but health clubs don’t have to worry about an exodus to the yoga mat or Pilates table. The $12 billion health club industry attracts more than 30 million members. But the need for comfortable, stylish workoutwear still hasn’t been fully addressed.
Adventure travelers represent the fastest-growing segment of the $447 billion leisure travel market, according to the Travel Industry Association. Of course, scaling Mount Everest isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Still, those with boots on their feet and packs on their backs can be outfitted in performance-oriented gear.
Women represent 24 percent of adult golfers who play at least one round a year, or 6.1 million, according to the National Golf Foundation. This seems to indicate an opportunity for a fashion company to do for golf what Prada Sport and Chanel have done for skiing.
TEAM SPORTS (SOFTBALL, SOCCER, ETC.)
It’s not just a “guy thing.” There are drop-in basketball games for women across the country, and the National Football League has developed a Web site, NFL for Her. According to a poll by Oppenheimer Funds and its parent Mass Mutual Financial Group, 81 percent of successful women business executives played organized team sports growing up and said the experience helped them develop leadership skills.
According to a national survey by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, more than 55 percent of Americans have gone boating in the last two years. Bring on the sunscreen.
Sales of in-line skates may have peaked in 1996, but the sport is still a great way to burn calories. The majority of in-line skaters are women, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association. States with the most in-line skaters are California and New York.
SOURCE: SCARBOROUGH RESEARCH; * Indicates the same percentage, in no particular order.