Inside Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Stellar Year That Landed It FN’s Retailer of the Year Award

On Nov. 30, Dick’s Sporting Goods will be honored as Retailer of the Year at the 35th annual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the magazine’s Nov. 29 print issue about the company’s incredible growth strategy.

For Dick’s Sporting Goods, 2021 was a year of change, as the Coraopolis, Pa.-based chain welcomed new CEO Lauren Hobart, who will lead its future. And if the first three quarters of the year are any indication, that future looks very bright.

An ambitious brick-and-mortar expansion, record-breaking earnings results and new digital expansions all contributed to a year like no other for the national retailer.

After another successful round of earnings in Q3, Dick’s raised its full year outlook and expects sales between $12.12 billion and $12.19 billion. Its success this year, according to executives, has been the result of both strategic business decisions as well a niche focus on fast-growing sectors.

Throughout the pandemic, Dick’s benefited from a surge in both the outdoor and athletic categories, driven by a consumer interest in outdoor activities such as hiking. Like many major retailers, store shutdowns helped the company’s overall digital revenue grow to make up 30% of sales in 2020.

Curbside pickup, BOPIS and advancements in the retailer’s website and mobile app also boosted digital growth.

At the same time, Dick’s made notable investments in brick-and-mortar expansion and enhancement. This year, the company opened more off-price stores under the Going, Going, Gone and Warehouse Sale banners, and continued to build its niche business with Golf Galaxy and Soccer Shop locations. It also launched the experiential House of Sport concept — which features a 17,000-square-foot turf field and running track, a rock-climbing wall, batting cage, golf hitting bays and a putting green — in order to help drive foot traffic to physical stores.

And this fall, Dick’s Sporting Goods opened the first locations of its new outdoor banner, dubbed Public Lands. The stores, which span around 50,000 to 60,000 square feet, include a massive footwear section with shoes for hiking, running, outdoor lifestyle and more.

“Public Lands enables us to target a different consumer from who the core Dick’s Sporting Goods consumer is,” Hobart told FN at the first store opening in September. “The explorer who’s going to be the customer for Public Lands seeks a life outside and we want to fill every single one of their needs, no matter what level they are.”

As the sporting goods chain looks to capitalize on its momentum, a robust assortment of high-demand products and brands will be an important growth driver.

As Nike cancels partnerships with numerous other retailers to focus on its DTC channels, Dick’s is one of the retailers that will continue to sell products from the Swoosh. According to Williams Trading analyst Sam Poser, this move will “result in some customers’ migration” toward Dick’s once the other accounts run out of Nike products.

In line with their ongoing relationship, the companies recently launched a digital partnership that connects Dick’s Scorecard and Nike Membership accounts, merging both loyalty programs onto the Dick’s mobile app. As a result, loyal shoppers can easily browse through Nike footwear and apparel offered at Dick’s.

According to Hobart, this membership connection will allow Dick’s customers to unlock a higher level of access to high-heat product from Nike.

Meanwhile, Dick’s is developing other key product offerings to cultivate new customers.

In a win for connecting with female athletes, Dick’s became the largest national retailer for WNBA merchandise after it signed on to become the league’s official sporting goods partner in September.

The retailer has also leaned more actively into private label, including its recently launched men’s athleisure line VRST. “We believe that there’s a lot of scale still out there in the apparel space, a little bit in footwear. There’s still a lot of room for growth,” said EVP and CFO of Dick’s Sporting Goods Lee Belitsky in a Q2 call with investors.

According to Hobart, these investments and success stories are only the start of what Dick’s has in store for 2022 and beyond. “We have so many initiatives underway in our business right now, and I feel we’re in a very fortunate position,” she told FN. “2022 is going to be all about growing our core business as well as some of these new initiatives.”

For 35 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards ­— often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2021 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Authentic Brands Group, FDRA, Informa, On and Wolverine Worldwide.

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