The Pickleball Mall Makeover

By: Anneken Tappe · September 07, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Pickleball Pandemonium

The pickleball craze has gone far beyond the pandemic. The sport, essentially a cross between tennis and ping pong, originally surged in popularity as a socially-distanced pastime. But it has shown no signs of slowing down.

In 2022, pickleball participation spiked 86% annually, and 159% over three years. This dramatic increase in players has outpaced places to play: There aren’t enough courts across America’s parks to supply the sport’s growing demand.

For American malls, the rise of pickleball couldn’t have come at a better time.

New Courts

In the beginning of the pickleball craze, nets were normally set up on tennis courts — much to the dismay of tennis players.

However, since the sport exploded in popularity, the demand for places to play has coincided with growing vacancies in America’s malls. Facilities formerly belonging to anchor stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Old Navy (GPS) have been converted to pickleball courts.

Retail Jumps on the Bandwagon

Meanwhile, major retailers like Walmart (WMT) are starting to carry pickleball shoes, paddles, balls, nets, and other merchandise. And much like the yoga and aerobics booms provided a boost to “athleisure” retailers, pickleball’s popularity has driven tennis apparel sales.

The category has grown by more than 40% since 2020. Companies like Lululemon (LULU), Nike (NKE), and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) have all seen a spike in the sales of pickleball-appropriate outfits. Meanwhile, startups like Picklemall can help you find a court near you as the Pickleball ecosystem continues to grow.

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