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Dec 18, 2007

Are you missing a trick?

Aqua Sphere says retailers need to make their swim kit space work harder

Aqua Sphere says retailers need to make their swim kit space work harder

Swimming should no longer be considered a summer-season burst of recreational activity. Retailers who think that harnessing the sales opportunities available from swimming means displaying a few goggles and swimsuits in-store in July and taking them off sale in September could well be missing a trick.

Fitness swimming is really on the rise, with more people understanding the benefits of swimming as a superb form of regular, low-impact exercise that works lots of muscle groups whilst being open to all ages and levels of fitness for very little cost. In short, more people are swimming more regularly and enjoying tangible health benefits across the UK’s swimming facilities. Research shows that swimmers also appreciate the relatively low outlay required to enjoy this activity, compared with, say, cycling, and this further strengthens its appeal to a wider demographic.

More people are joining health clubs or leisure centres with pools - and in the winter months swimming has a strong appeal as a form of exercise because it can be done in a warm, safe and secure environment. It’s far better to be diving into a warm pool to complete a few lengths than layering up for a bone-jarring run in the wind and rain! 

With swimming now the second biggest leisure pastime after walking in the UK, manufacturers are rising to the challenge to introduce products with higher levels of performance and comfort - and each year a wave of innovative features are introduced.  Very often a swimming pool reception won’t have the capability to stock all of these new and innovative items, opening up real sales opportunities for the informed sports retailer.

In addition, products for fitness swimmers are performance led and offer higher margins than lower-priced leisure swim products, so there are sales opportunities for retailers who focus on fitness swim kit as well as offering some leisure swim kit. If these are displayed well using eye-catching PoS and clever space-saving counter-top displays, swim kit can make even the smallest space work harder in terms of revenue.

Fitness swimmers will look for goggle features such as surgical-grade silicone seals, hypoallergenic materials and UVA and UVB protection, so a working knowledge of these features could well be the difference between making and losing a sale. The new breed of performance swimwear is also more stylish than ever before and a well put together rail can lead to incremental sales of caps, kickboards, wet-dry bags, etc. 

Let’s also not forget the growing importance of triathlon and open water swimming, with some figures suggesting there are now 200,000-plus triathletes across the UK. And these consumers definitely appreciate innovation and demand technological excellence in their eyewear and tri wetsuits. 

If you needed any more convincing to re-think your swimming space, from autumn onwards proactive swimming brands have been leveraging some interesting TV product placements to help boost brand awareness to a wider audience. Examples include Aqua Sphere goggles being used every night during the broadcast of ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity get me out of here!’, ‘Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’, Channel 4’s ‘Big Brother’ and CBBC’s ‘Scorpion Island’. 

Any retailers wanting informed advice on how to make their swim kit space work harder throughout the year should call Aqua Sphere’s customer care advisors on 01254 278873 or visit   www.aquasphereswim.com

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