Inline Skating Gains in Eastern Europe
New economies pave the way, though road blocks remain
By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson
(posted Thursday, May 4, 2006)
Tear down the Wall!
Oh, yeah ... they already did ... 15 years ago. And to take it a step further, two years ago they entered the European Union.
But still the countries of Eastern Europe lag behind their Western counterparts when it comes to inline skating.
While inline is gaining in popularity in Eastern Europe, particularly in larger cities, its development has been hampered by poor roads and poverty, according to a study commissioned by the U.K.-based Sports Industry Federation.
The study looked at the the sport industries of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, all of which entered the European Union on May 1, 2004.
It found that inline skating was growing in popularity in three of the countries: Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
In Hungary, the inline market "is broader due to the perceived benefits in terms of fitness," the report says. "But the poor quality of the roads clearly hinders the development of this sport."
In Slovakia: "Inline skating has caught on in particular in bigger towns, and inline hockey is gaining popularity due to the success of the Slovak ice hockey team."
In the Czech Republic, inline skating "has become a popular leisure activity, particularly in urban areas with smooth asphalt surfaces or special facilities."
The study did not guage inline's popularity in Poland, although it did give an estimate for inline skates sales: 65,000 a year, of which 40,000 are no-name skates made in China.
The report predicts that sports and the sporting goods industry will grow at a moderate clip in Eastern Europe during the next few years.
"The growth of sporting goods markets tends to materialize several years after the take-off of the market as a whole," the report says. And that hasn't happened — at least, not yet — in Eastern Europe
The sporting goods market was hot after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc 15 years ago. But these days, outside of the big cities, unemployment is high and disposable income low to nonexistent in Eastern Europe.
As a result, the study concludes, "fast growth is unlikely to resume until the purchasing power of consumers increases substantially."
More Industry News:
Buy the full 255-page study from SGMA. (Go to SGMA web page.)
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