Analysis of aquatic and fitness centres performance through June shows changing consumer behaviour


Newly released data from industry data analytics company ActiveXchange with analysis of the performance of aquatic, fitness, recreation and sport facilities during June suggests that the pandemic has changed consumers’ awareness and mindset in the maintenance of physical and mental wellbeing.

Advising that “the number may look like the industry is returning to normal, but the underlying behaviours and motivations may have changed”, ActiveXchange’s data gives a state-by-state of sector performance during June, with the following trends:

  • NSW – live membership is at 90% compared to pre-COVID 2019 levels
  • Queensland – live members, unique visits and total visits are returning to pre-COVID 2019 levels
  • South Australia – live members and unique visits are exceeding pre-COVID 2019 levels
  • Tasmania – live members have exceeded pre-COVID levels
  • Victoria – live membership is 80% of pre-COVID 2019 level since reopening in November last year
  • Western Australia – for the initial six months after reopening in June last year, members are significantly more active than in 2019.

ActiveXchange suggest that to explore the changes in behaviour, the following topics might be worth investigating:

  1. Research on member/public’s interest and current participation rate in the physical hybrid offering. Especially the millennials and generation Z who are more likely to demand technology solutions for seamless fitness experience.
  2. Research shows people are more active and felt exercise was more critical than pre-covid and after lockdown. Investigate which channels are people using to maintain their physical activity. Such as hybrid offering/online streaming classes, home fitness equipment (eBay sales for home fitness gear increased exponentially), or outdoor exercise. As for most states, the cancellation rate is still above the pre-covid level in most of the months.
  3. Technology-related innovations. Research on the newest fitness equipment that incorporates streaming classes and personal training sessions.
  4. Shifts in demographic groups, program preference in current live members.
  5. Are newly acquired members (i.e., the recovered live member) resumed from the cancellation or new members? If they are new members, implement actions to increase engagement/visits, help to build their motivation, habit, and routine in maintaining an active life. In addition, as new members are more likely to quit in the first few months, extra attention would be beneficial. 

COVID Recovery Takeaways for NSW for June

  • Live membership is around 90% compared to pre-covid 2019 levels
  • While fewer members overall, they are going more frequently. It reflects in the low unique visits recovery rate and its corresponding total visits
  • There has been a slow reduction in suspension rates since the beginning of 2021.

COVID Recovery Takeaways for Queensland for June

  • The number of live members, unique visits and total visits gradually return to the pre-covid level since January 2021.
  • Since reopening in June 2020, significantly more members are cancelling their membership compared to the pre-covid period
  • Members are less active in April and May 2021 than in 2019.

South Australia
COVID Recovery Takeaways for South Australia for June

  • The number of live members and unique visits for SA has returned and exceeded pre-covid levels since the beginning of 2021
  • During the same period, the number of total visits also nearly reached the pre-covid level
  • Improvement in cancellation rate during April and May 2021 until recent covid lockdown in June.



COVID Recovery Takeaways for Tasmania for June

  • The number of live members has resumed and exceeded pre-covid levels
  • Suspension and cancellation rates have fallen below the pre-covid 2019 level in the recent three months
  • Member’s mindset is more committed to maintaining an active and healthy life, but visits are still low. It would be good to motivate these members to avoid churn.

COVID Recovery Takeaways for Victoria for June

  • Live membership is around 80% compared to pre-covid 2019 level since reopening November 2020
  • Unique visitor rate has risen back to 53% of pre-covid 2019 level since January 2021.

Additional Member and Visit Notes for Victoria

  • A higher percentage of members are currently live but did not visit the venue. It is essential to pay close attention to these members and further investigate the reasons for not returning to the gym, ensuring engagement is maintained to avoid attrition
  • Victoria had the most frequent and longest lockdown compared to other states. Home fitness is growing in popularity due to lockdown, especially in places with long durations of lockdown. Members in Melbourne might be experiencing the same change in their habits. 
  • Another factor is the covid restrictions/limit on the number of people per venue and per program. If covid restrictions cause the low recovery rate in unique visits, then the venue’s legally allowed occupancy rate should be high.

Additional Cancellation Notes for Victoria

  • The cancellation rate is continuously sitting above the pre-covid 2019 level since reopening in November 2020. In addition, there is a short lockdown period during the end of December, as reflected by a 386% cancellation rate and a 453% suspension rate compared to the pre-covid level.
  • A high cancellation rate reflects the potential behaviour change in members, choosing different channels to maintain physical activity. 

Western Australia
Recovery performance for Western Australia for June

  • Within the first 6 months after reopening in June 2020, members are significantly more active than in 2019
  • As the total visits and unique visits are all above the pre-covid level by a substantial amount
  • Since January 2021, unique visits and total visits have dropped below pre-covid 2019 levels. Members are less active in 2021.

Additional Member and Visit Notes for Western Australia

  • Western Australia had a five-day lockdown during the beginning of February, three-days lockdown at the end of April. The low visits might be due to these back-to-back lockdowns.
  • The suspension rate since reopening from June 2020 to November 2020 is nearly doubled compared to the pre-covid level and remained high except January 2021. Frequent lockdowns disrupt member’s regular exercise routine and will require additional motivation and effort to get back on track

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Main image courtesy of Zoggs.

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29th April 2021 – Australian College of Physical Education and ActiveXchange announce partnership agreement

29th March 2021 – ActiveXchange reveals new initiatives as part of Federal Government-backed scale-up

26th February 2021 – Global Leisure Group teams with ActiveXchange and SportsEye New Zealand

11th February 2021 – ActiveXchange market intelligence shows members quick to cancel unused memberships

14th December 2020 – ActiveXchange puts data analytics at the fingertips of 18 NSW sporting bodies

30th November 2020 – ActiveXchange highlights the need for targeted and collaborative efforts to meet financial challenges

5th November 2020 – ActiveXchange’s data analysis to expand VICSWIM program and help children get back to swimming

7th September 2020 – ActiveXchange and the SportsEye Network’s work to be enhanced by Federal Government funding

20th August 2020 – ActiveXchange leadership appointments look to drive expansion and growth

27th May 2021 – Changing look of usage of council-owned fitness facilities

28th June 2021 – SportsEye Academy hosts panel discussion in Perth

26th July 2021 – Federal Court rules Fitness Industry Award covers elite swimming coaches

21st July 2021 – Fitness Australia calls for ‘JobKeeper 2.0’ as Coronavirus lockdowns widen

5th July 2021 – Nominations open for 2021 Fitness Industry Awards

3rd July 2021 – Fitness Australia invites input on industry trends survey

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