By Brian Metzler
The Running Event trade show in Austin, Texas, earlier this month brought together most of the running industry’s suppliers, retailers and distributors for the first time in two years. It was one of the biggest shows in the 15-year history of the event, but it was as if the world had changed since the previous TRE in 2019. Oh, yeah, the world did change, which is why there was a record number of retailers attending the show, smart new education programming and seminars and a flurry of reworked shoe release dates.
“The run specialty community was eager to reconnect, and the energy at The Running Event 2021 was palpable,” TRE executive director Christina Henderson said. Yes, indeed, the stoke was high.
Here are six takeaways from TRE to consider as 2022 grows larger on the horizon line.
1. The retail growth opportunity is enormous
In his keynote address, industry consultant and former running brand executive Parker Karnan spoke about the impacts of Covid-19 and how it changed the scope and opportunity of the running industry. Specifically, he pointed out that there as many as 20 million “new” runners heading into 2022 compared to early 2020, plus about 7 million “lapsed” runners that are back in the game. That group of 27 million newly-engaged runners is larger than the collection of 24 million “existing” runners that had been running consistently heading into 2020. “So now the new runners outnumber the existing runners,” Karnan said. “And that’s significant because they’re buying a lot of shoes and gear and looking for advice and direction.” But, he said, change is needed to meet the new customers where they are instead of assuming they’ll follow the same path and patterns to buy new gear as they always have.