Athletic gear sales soar, boosts U.S. retail

Athletic wear sales are increasing as retailers embrace the "athleisure" trend, which The Wall Street Journal calls "a bright spot in a sluggish business thanks to Americans who are increasingly donning sneakers in the boardroom and yoga pants at brunch." 

Involvement in sports is on the decline, but it has become fashionable and appropriate to wear athletic clothes in a number of situations. Athletic gear has, in fact, become less about utility and more about comfort and style.

This looks good for retailers, who are rushing to take advantage of the rend. In fact, Barclays analysts project a 50 percent increase in the U.S. athletic apparel market by the year 2020, adding up to over $100 billion. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that participation in yoga increased by 4.5 percent in 2013, while yoga apparel sales increased by 45 percent, and Under Armour and Nike are both poised to enjoy a brisk sales pace. Athletic brands have outsold everything else in the back-to-school race. 

Apparel retailers are capitalizing on this especially where women are concerned, with much of the market being controlled by Lululemon, which sells yoga pants for about $90 per pair. Meanwhile, the demand for denim jeans is decreasing. 

However, men also want to be comfortable while socializing or lounging around the house, and businesses are excited about the sales prospects of "jogger pants," which are trouser-like sweatpants with a band of elastic at each ankle. Companies plan to market these to men on the grounds that they show off expensive and stylish sneakers to their fullest advantage. 

Hopefully, the surge in athletics apparel will translate to other areas of retail as well. To prepare for sales, be sure to update your card processing software so you can monitor every transaction and all important data and inventory. 

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