Indie golf shops close in record numbers

Dick's Sporting Goods

Dick's Sporting Goods

The combination of a brutal economy and big golf retail chains expanding their domains means “mom and pop” shops soon may become an endangered species.

Evidence to support that theory comes from an annual study by industry research firm Longitudes Group, which reports more than 245 off-course golf stores in the U.S. closed in the past 12 months – the highest tally recorded since this research began six years ago.

The closures represent more than a 17 percent decline in store locations and a 9.6 percent shrinkage in total retail square footage.

Meanwhile, so-called “big-box” stores, or golf retail chains, continue to increase their market share: Big-box retailers now account for 24 percent of all stores and occupy 60 percent of all available retail space.

“Many of the mom & pops that could not survive the economic downturn had been in business for 20-plus years. . .” said Sara Killeen, president of Longitudes Group, in a statement.

Of the nearly 200 retail markets that Longitudes tracks, seven of them since 2008 have lost the only golf store they had in their respective towns. Among the store-less markets: Bangor, Maine; and Paducah, Kentucky.

Other findings from the 2009 Market Trend Report on USA Off-Course Golf Retail:

• Of the markets studied that had at least one off-course store, 50 percent reported a decline in store locations; 5 percent posted an increase in store locations; and 45 percent reported no change.

• Golf Galaxy, which is owned by Dick's Sporting Goods, Golfsmith and PGA Superstores combined represent 42 percent of total retail square footage.

• Los Angeles reported the largest number of store closings: 26.

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