Amid pandemic, small sports goods retailers find the going tough against big players

Business City COVID-19

Bengaluru: Small sports retail stores are struggling to stay in business against sports giants amid the economic slump created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kiran Kumar, owner of Sugam Sports in Vasanthapura, Banashankari Stage V, said: “Our revenue largely depends on the daily walk-ins. The second lockdown has hit us harder than the first one. We should be allowed to open for at least a couple of hours in the evenings. Unlike big companies, we don’t have enough manpower to provide home delivery.”  

In recent years, India’s sporting industry has seen a shift from being a one sports nation to a multi-sport viewing nation.

Arun Karumbaiah, owner of Twenty Twenty Sports on M.G. Road, said: “Now we have IPL, Euro League, NBA and the 2021 Olympics. This is our peak season, but we are unable to utilize its benefits.”

The pandemic has changed the way people shop. People now prefer to shop online rather than visit brick-and-mortar stores.

Vrushank Kumar, a basketball player, said: “During the pandemic, online shopping is the best option. I get to choose from different brands of various price ranges and get it home delivered. This way my exposure to the virus will be less.”

While small businesses are hanging by the thread, sports giants like Decathlon, Puma, Adidas and Nike have a different pandemic tale.

“Since Decathlon opened an outlet on Brigade Road, my business has gradually slumped. Earlier, their presence was mainly on the highways; now they have also entered the city,” Karumbaiah said.

Over the years, sports clubs and sports enthusiasts have shifted to Decathlon citing low prices, easy exchange and quality.

Adith K.P., a football enthusiast, said: “I like shopping at Decathlon because of their quality apparels. Their one-year warranty policy helps us with easy exchange in any Decathlon store across the world.”

Sports clubs, schools and corporates are being wooed by Decathlon partnership deals. Sandhya Manjunath, CEO of Awaken The Sports Man In You, said: “We buy bulk sports equipment from Decathlon as it is cost-effective and better in quality. We also get sports sponsorship for the events we conduct.”

People who manage sports grounds say tie-ups with Decathlon have increased their booking slots. An employee of Dribble Arena, a mini football court in Uttarahalli, shared: “We have a business tie-up with Decathlon. They conduct and sponsor events here. In return, we help them in advertising.”

Ripin P.K., a former employee of Decathlon Sports India, said their strategy is to have lower-end pricing for consumers who prefer value for money to brand names. This appeals to people of different age groups.

Decathlon, which opened its first store in India in 2009, now has 70 stores spread across the country. Generally, Decathlon stores are much larger than other sports goods shops.

In India, the company sells more than 500 products related to 70 sporting disciplines. In contrast, most other retailers sell cricket and football goods.

Smaller Indian sports goods manufacturers like Nivia, Costco and  Shiv-Naresh are finding it difficult to compete with the international brands.

Small retailers that sell Indian brands say they should be given a push in the Make in India policy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *