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Inline Continues to Lose Skaters
Heelys seen as one cause for decline

By Planet staff
April 14 , 2008

Inline skating continued to dip in popularity last year in the United States, according to a report released today by the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association (SGMA).

What Are People Doing?

(Participants by Activity)

  • Walking - 76.8 million
  • Treadmill - 29 million
  • Free weights - 28 million
  • Running/Jogging - 24.2 million
  • Cycling (road) - 21.1 million
  • Basketball - 18 million
  • Swimming - 7.2 million
  • Inline skating - 4.7 million
  • Roller skating (quad) - 1.9 million

Source: SGMA 2008 Sports and Fitness Report

The number of Americans who laced up inline skates last year dropped to 10.8 million. That's a 12.2 percent decline from the 12.3 million who skated in 2006.

The drop was deeper among "core" inline skaters, defined in the report as those who lace up more than once a month. Their numbers dropped 22 percent from 6.1 million to 4.7 million.

The report offers no explanation for the decline in inline skating.

Rollerblade Co-President Stephen Charrier says one factor last year was the rise of Heelys.

"Last year was the year of Heelys," Charrier said. "We know that a lot of kids were not skating; they were rolling around on Heelys. But now that Heelys have totally dropped out of fashion, the inline market is definitely rebuilding."

Charrier described the adult market as "healthy."

The number of inline skaters in the United States has dropped since the peak of the inline fad in the late 1990s. In 2000, 21.9 million Americans inline skated, SGMA says.

While inline skating dropped in popularity last year, ice skating grew by 18.4 percent to 11.4 million participants, according to the SGMA report. But the number of core participants remained relatively low at 1.9 million.


The SGMA report is based on the results of Synovate's US Online Panel. The interviews were conducted in January and February 2008. Surveyed were 15,013 individuals and 25,781 households.

A weighting technique was used to balance the data to reflect the total US population aged 6 and above. The following variables were used: gender, age, income, household size, region and population density. The total population figure used was 274,796,000 people aged 6 and above.


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