Good News: AB Survey Suggests Economic Turnaround

In the face of continued economic uncertainty, things might not be as bad as they sometimes seem in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Almost 30 percent of the 1,622 North American respondents to a recent Athletic Business survey indicated that they expect their 2011-12 budgets to increase, and nearly half anticipate they'll be working within a budget framework similar to the one they are now.

That's good news for an industry rattled by employee furloughs. Respondents from each of seven key market segments addressed in the survey - college athletics and recreation, parks and recreation, high school sports, health club, YMCA, the military and hospital wellness - shared encouraging information that could help generate momentum heading into the summer. Of particular note: Almost one-quarter of all health club respondents expect their budgets to increase by a double-digit percentage.

The numbers are even more promising for Canadian facility operators and program administrators. More than half of all parks and recreation, high school and health club professionals in that country expect their budgets to at least remain the same next year, and those numbers jump to 72.4 percent among the college ranks.

On the other hand, some segments will likely continue to suffer more than others; 36 percent of respondents from high school athletics, which have been bearing the brunt of severe state and local budget cuts, expect to see budget decreases - some of them severe.

Here is a breakdown by category of responses to the question: "I anticipate next year my budget will be:"

Up more than 10% 9.1%
Up less than 10% 17.5%
The same 49.0%
Down less than 10% 15.7%
Down more than 10% 8.6%

Up more than 10% 4.3%
Up less than 10% 15.4%
The same 53.0%
Down less than 10% 18.3%
Down more than 10% 9.0%

Parks and Recreation
Up more than 10% 4.8%
Up less than 10% 15.6%
The same 48.5%
Down less than 10% 23.7%
Down more than 10% 7.4%

High School
Up more than 10% 5.2%
Up less than 10% 11.8%
The same 47.4%
Down less than 10% 18.5%
Down more than 10% 17.1%

Health Club
Up more than 10% 21.9%
Up less than 10% 22.9%
The same 43.8%
Down less than 10% 6.3%
Down more than 10% 5.2%

Up more than 10% 6.3%
Up less than 10% 35.4%
The same 39.6%
Down less than 10% 10.4%
Down more than 10% 0.0%

Up more than 10% 10.3%
Up less than 10% 12.8%
The same 46.2%
Down less than 10% 15.4%
Down more than 10% 15.4%

Up more than 10% 10.5%
Up less than 10% 22.4%
The same 51.3%
Down less than 10% 9.2%
Down more than 10% 6.6%
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