Why Walmart and Big 5 Sporting Goods May Benefit Greatly From Sports Authority’s Demise

Foot traffic suggests sales gains

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The Sports Authority is shutting down its more than 400 stores by the end of August, so NinthDecimal ran a study to figure out which retailers may benefit from the 28-year-old sports gear brand's absence. The measurement player said it tracked 135 million shoppers recently and learned that—based on their behavior—Big 5 Sporting Goods and Walmart would be the two biggest beneficiaries.

When it comes to in-store foot traffic, the research showed that Sports Authority shoppers visited Big 5 Sporting Goods locations 5.8 times more than all other sports retailers, while the same customers patronized Walmart 6.9 times more than other big box retailers. So it stands to reason that such consumers will visit those two brands more often and proportionally increase their sales, said Lindsey DiGiorgio, vp of marketing, NinthDecimal, who had advice for the retailers. 

"Big 5 and Walmart can use physical-world data to take advantage of this opportunity in several ways—understanding locations where there was a heavy overlap in customers, understanding where Sports Authority was dominating the share of foot traffic, and knowing how Sports Authority customers look and act in comparison to their own," DiGiorgio said. "If competitors look at those three things and target integrated marketing campaigns and creative accordingly, there are a lot of customers to gain, and this is just time for the peak, back-to-school shopping frenzy."

Dick's Sporting Goods, which won the bid to obtain Sport's Authority's intellectual property rights and the right to lease 31 stores, also has opportunities thanks to Sport's Authority's demise. Per NinthDecimal, it saw the second-highest foot traffic from Sports Authority customers among sports retailers, with 2.7 times more visits on average, while Target was second among big box retailers, with 4.4 times more visits on average.

"I think we were surprised to see such a big overlap between big box retailers and Sports Authority," DiGiorgio added. "If you can get what you need at a big box retailer, there's no reason to go to a specialty store. It signals an opportunity for big box retailers to expand their offerings of workout clothes, sporting equipment and basic gear kids will need to play on their school teams."

To come to its findings, NinthDecimal utilized its merchant-focused Location Conversion Index, which is designed to attribute offline sales back to online campaigns. It has data partnerships with companies like Neustar, Acxiom, BlueKai, Datalogix, Experian, LiveRamp, etc. to enable the solution.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.