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Checking in on Fitness Industry Tenants

Each January, the story is the same.

“New year, new me!” people cry and resolve to save money, learn new hobbies, and eat better. But each year, the most common New Year’s resolution by far is to be more active. In fact, a study by YouGov found that of the Americans who made resolutions for 2021, half of them aimed to exercise more.

This resolution is so widespread that gyms and other fitness centers tend to see a spike in foot traffic during the month of January. However, with the pandemic still causing mask mandates, capacity limits, and nonessential businesses to close, the question is: How did gyms fare in the first month of 2021?

To answer this question, we turned to Buxton’s Consumer Impact Dashboard. The dashboard uses GPS data from mobile devices to track trends in visitor volume by business category—in this case, the fitness and recreational sports center category. Using this, we compared the number of visits to these locations in December 2020 to January 2021 in states rated as ‘mostly open’ by The New York Times (as of January 29).

Let’s take a closer look at the data to find out what’s happening to this critical category of anchor tenants for many shopping centers.

Top Ten Most Active States

Of the top ten states with the most gym activity in January, only two showed an increase from December 2020 to January 2021. In other words, most of the states that had been active at the end of the year actually became less active in the new year.

Here’s the break down.

1. Nevada

The best of the best, Nevada had the most mobile device activity at gyms and fitness centers for the first month of the year. Even so, the state was 9 percent less active than it was the final month of 2020.

2. Hawaii

Hawaii saw a 14.8 percent drop in gym visits in January.

3. Washington D.C.

In Washington D.C., there were 6.8 percent fewer visitors to gyms in January.

4. Alaska

Alaska also saw a 9 percent drop in January.

5. New Jersey

Between December and January, gym visits dropped 7.9 percent in New Jersey.

6. Utah

Only one of two states with an increase in activity, Utah saw 5.7 percent more visitors to gyms in January.

7. Florida

Visits dropped 10.7 percent after the new year in Florida.

8. Virginia

Virginia had 4.9 percent fewer visits in January.

9. North Dakota

The other state to see a rise in gym visits, North Dakota’s activity rose 3.6 percent.

10. Illinois

Finally, to round out the top ten, Illinois had 9 percent less activity in January than December.

Top Ten Least Active States

Of the top ten least active states, four actually saw an increase in gym attendance from December to January. Consumers in the less active states seem to be more interested in stepping up their fitness game in the new year.

Here’s the full list.

1. Arkansas

Arkansas, the state with the least amount of gym activity for the first month of the year, had 12.3 percent fewer visitors in January than in December.

2. Mississippi

In Mississippi, the data shows that there were 3.8 percent fewer visits after the new year.

3. Kansas

Gym visits in Kansas fell by 0.9 percent between December and January.

4. Alabama

Alabama also dropped by 0.9 percent.

5. Iowa

From December to January, Iowa increased its gym visits by 15.5 percent.

6. South Dakota

Visits rose by 9.5 percent after the new year in South Dakota.

7. Indiana

The Hoosier state had a 12.3 percent drop in gym volume.

8. Kentucky

Kentucky saw a 1.9 percent decrease in visits to gyms.

9. West Virginia

West Virginians increased their gym activity by 8.3 percent.

10. Wyoming

Finally, rounding out the 10 least active states, Wyoming saw a 28.8 percent jump in gym activity between December and January.

The Bottom Line

Of the 35 states rated as ‘Mostly Open,’ 11 saw an increase in activity from December to January, one state saw no change, and 22 saw a decrease.

If January were a case of resolutions versus the pandemic, the pandemic won.

Clearly, the fitness industry’s struggles are not yet over. CRE professionals seeking to attract or retain fitness tenants need to keep a close eye on traffic trends to stay informed on the financial stability of this category.

Need a tool to keep up with consumer and market dynamics? Check out our CRE Technology Platform.

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