Pickleball Frenzy Boosts Retail Landscape Shifts

pickleball frenzy boosts retail landscape shifts.jpg Business

In a whirlwind of sports and fashion, the pickleball craze is not only taking over recreation centers and repurposed tennis courts, but it’s also making substantial ripples in the retail landscape. From running stores stocking up on pickleball shoes to start-ups transforming ailing malls into indoor courts, the fascination with this game is ushering in major shifts in the retail industry. The rise in pickleball participation, which surged 85.7 percent in 2022 year-over-year and 158.6 percent over three years, according to The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, is also marking the uncommon convergence of sport and lifestyle, much like yoga, aerobics, and jogging did in years past.

The impact of pickleball extends beyond the court, influencing fashion trends and redefining casual attire. As people seek a balance between comfort and style in our new "hybrid lifestyle," tennis dresses and skirts, which transition effortlessly from workout to streetwear, have taken off. Tennis apparel, a category that encapsulates pickleball, has grown 41 percent since 2020, with sales topping $340 million in the 12 months ending in June. This growth is not only inspired by the sport itself, but also by the ease and versatility of the attire, making it perfectly suited for our current times.

Pickleball: A Rising Star in the Retail and Lifestyle Landscape

The growing popularity of pickleball, a paddleball sport, is not only transforming recreational centers and repurposed tennis courts but also bringing about significant shifts in the retail landscape.

Pickleball: More than just a sport

Kinsey Watkins, a 29-year-old consultant, is one of the many enthusiasts who have spent a considerable amount on pickleball – around $1,000 in just three months. She plays two to three times a week, and has invested in a range of gear including court shoes, pickleball balls, cooling towels, tennis dresses and skirts, and is even on the lookout for a suitable pickleball bag. This demonstrates how pickleball has become a lifestyle trend, much like yoga, aerobics, and jogging in the past.

The Retail Boom

The pickleball craze has prompted a surge in the retail sector. Stores are stocking up on pickleball shoes, paddles, balls, and other merchandise. Notably, Walmart has tripled its shelf space for pickleball equipment. Even start-ups like Picklemall are capitalizing on the trend, transforming ailing malls into indoor courts. The sport has also invigorated the fashion industry. Brands like Lululemon and Nike are cashing in on the trend with moisture-wicking tennis skirts and racerback tank dresses that transition seamlessly from workout to streetwear.

The Rise of Pickleball

Pickleball’s popularity surged by 85.7% in 2022 and 158.6% over three years, according to The Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Even Franklin Sports, a well-known sporting goods brand, now regards pickleball as its fastest-growing product line. The rise of professional circuits and breakout stars like 16-year-old Anna Leigh Waters, who has endorsement deals with sportswear brand Fila and paddle maker Paddletek, only add to its appeal.

The Hybrid Lifestyle Trend

Post-pandemic, the demand for racket-wear has seen an upswing, reflecting what Kristen Classi-Zummo calls our new “hybrid lifestyle.” Tennis apparel, which includes pickleball attire, has grown by 41% since 2020, with sales topping $340 million in the 12 months ending in June – a 15% increase from the previous year. The functional yet stylish tennis dresses and skirts have become the new go-to outfit for many women, replacing the once-popular yoga pants and leggings.

The Future of Pickleball

Pickleball’s rapid growth suggests a promising future. It has been the fastest-growing sport in the US for three years running, with equipment sales skyrocketing nearly 500% since 2020. The sport has also opened up new opportunities for businesses, such as Catherine Baxter’s paddle company, Nettie, which addresses the need for mid-priced, high-quality paddles with unique designs.


Pickleball’s meteoric rise is a testament to the sport’s mass appeal. It has successfully tapped into the lifestyle trend, influencing not just the sporting world but also the retail and fashion industries. The sport’s potential for growth remains high, and it’s clear that pickleball is more than just a passing fad. It’s a lifestyle revolution that’s here to stay.

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