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E-commerce gives a big boost to home fitness accessories as gyms remain shuttered, Retail News, ET Retail

Covid-19 Impact: E-commerce gives a big boost to home fitness accessories as gyms remain shutteredBENGALURU: Sports goods retailers such as Decathlon and marketplaces Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have seen a surge in online sale of fitness equipment amid the Covid-19 lockdown. E-commerce has edged over physical stores in selling equipment such as dumbbell kits, yoga mats and push-up bars with closure of gyms and outdoor exercises pacing the consumers to set up home gyms since April.

Decathlon said, “E-commerce has taken a massive lead in the last three months growing from a share of 11% pre-lockdown to 33% share of the total sales avenues.” The French sporting goods retailer has noted a 220% growth on fitness products across categories such as cycling, fitness cardio, yoga and running by customers looking to bolster home equipment for self-practice and online workouts.

“Earlier, home fitness was a practice for beginners. This has changed and we have more fitness enthusiasts like pro-bodybuilders, cross fitters and Zumba instructors practicing at home and taking online classes for their clients,” said Decathlon, adding, “Heavy equipment will start to have a higher market share as these fitness enthusiasts look to complete their home gym set-up.”

Decathlon said it had noted over 141% volume growth in the sale of gym benches and bench racks and 141% increase in demand for dumbbell kits or individual dumbbells. Even though the firm has reopened 60% of its stores following the relaxation of the lockdown, Decathlon has taken to phygital stores or app-based shopping with reserve-and-collect feature to sell its products.

According to a recent report by Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group, digital influence in urban consumers has increased by up to 70% for categories such as mobile phones, apparel and consumer packaged goods. Consumers engage even with offline categories on their smartphones and close fulfillment offline or online. This trend is expected to stay post-pandemic as well, added the report.

Marketplaces have recorded significant growth in sale of home gym kits since non-essential retail opened in May. An Amazon India spokesperson told ET that the platform has noted a 2.2X increase in the overall category with home gym sets, yoga mats and bands and tubes seeing maximum uptake with about 5X increase in sales.

Likewise, a company spokesperson at Flipkart said that in addition to sportswear such as yoga and lounge pants and sports bras, fitness products have seen close to 2X growth as compared to pre-lockdown period.

Increased demand in the category has led to a corresponding increase in the assortment by sellers in the recent weeks.

“The demand over the last two months is nearly 60% higher than the corresponding period last year. Users are buying multiple products to meet the needs of various family members,” said a Snapdeal spokesperson.

While most of these orders on marketplaces have come from metros such as Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru, non-metros such as Patna, Dehradun, Ernakulam and Lucknow to smaller towns such as Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh), Circle (Telangana), Mansa (Punjab) and Karimganj (Assam) have emerged as top markets.

Marketplaces have been quick to lap up the opportunity to further the trending category. Snapdeal shoppers have access to fitness coaches and nutrition expert consultations recently added on the platform. Through partnership various with sports brands, Flipkart has launched workout videos of influencers and celebrities such as KL Rahul and Mary Kom to stay relevant.

Rising fitness-conscious individuals, product advancements enabling home-based workouts and improvement of online fitness content are key driving factors for the market growth, noted experts.

Pinakiranjan Mishra, partner and national leader – consumer products and retail at EY India said, “Growing awareness of health and wellbeing among homebound consumers has triggered the increase in demand for fitness equipment in addition to increased consumption of packaged, healthier, immunity-boosting foods and beverages. Considering that infections are on the rise and there is no immediate sign of recovery, the trend is likely to continue for now.”

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