Kids Equipment Sales Are on the Rise


If you take a few moments to reminisce about your childhood, we’re sure some of those memories involve a playset — whether it was at school during recess, at your favorite playground or in your backyard. There’s a chance it might revolve around a not-so-fun memory, too. Perhaps you remember a tragic fall off of the Monkey Bars that resulted in a battle scar or maybe a jump off of the swing that went south.

Chances are good you have several positive memories as well, like the first time you made it across the Monkey Bars without any help or your first time climbing the ladder or rock wall by yourself. These memories are full of emotion, whether it’s a healed scar or a celebration. Maybe that’s what makes playsets so popular.

While other toy trends come and go, the playset has been a part of childhood memories for generations and shows no sign of stopping. The outdoor and sports toys market has been accelerating over time, hitting $3.73 billion in 2016 and a 10 percent increase from 2015. Believe it or not, this market continues to grow despite the fact that handheld games and electronics continue to be introduced to children at younger ages. Outdoor and sports toys is the highest-grossing toy category — larger than youth electronics, dolls and action figures, just to name a few.

In 2016, this category experienced the second-highest growth of any toy category. And in 2017, it was a part of the “Up and Active” toy trend. That’s right: a toy with more than 200 years of history is still considered to be trendy. With all of these impressive numbers, you can’t deny playsets are popular and an important part of a childs development even today.

But why? We’ll start by giving you a little background on the person who gets the credit for creating this toy that stands the test of time.

Playgrounds: A Brief History

Henry Barnard is credited with sketching the very first concept of a playground as we know it. Playgrounds were invented so children could have a safe, designated area to play outside. Before playgrounds were common in society, children would play in streets and other areas where their “fun” could be interrupted by traffic & other dangers. The first public playground in the United States opened in 1887 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

While the swings, slides and carousel were undoubtedly a hit for the children in the area, it wasn’t a widely accepted concept until the early 1900s, when the Playground Association of America was formed to promote playgrounds across the nation. And it worked! During President Theodore Roosevelt’s time in office, he called for more playgrounds to be constructed to provide safe outdoor play areas for children — the very reason that Barnard had created his playground sketch several years prior.

Playgrounds evolved over time as well. In the 1960s, they expanded and were no longer solely found in public parks. You could now find them in some establishments like McDonald’s restaurants. Today, playgrounds appear on school property, city park property and personal property — even on White House property. When President Barack Obama took office in 2008, all eyes were on the new playset on the White House Lawn for Sasha and Malia. When Donald Trump took office in 2016 and declined to keep it onsite, prominent news outlets covered the story of its being donated to a local shelter.

Why Are Kids Equipment Sales on the Rise?

You can’t deny the numbers — it’s clear that outdoor play equipment is a large and growing market. But what is it about this market that seems to spark an interest in children consistently over time? Will the growth continue despite the fact that technology continues to advance with other ways to play?

Believe it or not, outdoor play isn’t all fun and games. There are seemingly countless studies that have been done with children of various ages that demonstrate the developmental, physical and mental benefits of the time children spend playing. Obviously, “play” is a broad term that can be used to encompass everything from playing with blocks or dolls in the living room to running and navigating a playset.

However, many of these studies take their research one step further and specify the type of specific activity and the outcome, underscoring a strong correlation between these developmental, physical and mental benefits and outdoor play. Specifically of benefit is play that involves outdoor equipment such as a playset.

In addition to these benefits, and despite the rumors that millennials won’t have as many children as the baby boomers who came before them, the latest United States Census Bureau projections show steady growth for the number of children for the foreseeable future. All of these factors have been and will continue to contribute to this booming industry.

We’ve gathered some specifics on each of them below.

Outdoor Play Is Critical for Child Development

Yes, play is meant to be fun — but there’s a critical learning component, too, especially for young children.

Playing outdoors with the help of a playset helps young children learn coordination, balance, gross-motor skills and fine-motor skills. Think about crawling up a rock wall, balancing on a swing or coordinating hand-over-hand on the Monkey Bars. Each of the parts of a typical playset encourages development in different ways. These movements take coordination and balance, which can be quickly learned through successful and not-so-successful ventures on a playset.

In addition to the physical aspects of play, there are social elements of play that encourage the development of social skills. Add a brother, sister or friend to the playset and you have created an environment that enables your child to learn how to navigate group dynamics. Over time, taking turns on the swings and going one at a time on the slide help children learn how to collaborate, compromise, share, show affection, resolve conflicts and play by the rules. These social skills translate into forming relationships, which is an essential part of human development and a big part of who we are as adults.

Not only is this outdoor play an essential part of child development, but it’s also a child-approved learning opportunity. Children love physical play! When they get the chance, 20 percent of a child’s free play is spent doing physical activities. All they need is the opportunity, which is why we are passionate about dedicating our Superior Play showrooms to serve as indoor community playgrounds for those who may not have access to a playset at home.

Outdoor Play Improves Physical Health

Getting outside to play is directly connected to a child’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five school-aged children has obesity — a number that has more than tripled since the 1970s. Could there be a correlation between that and the fact that children today spend an average of seven hours per day indoors with technology? Studies show that physical activity on a regular basis can help children control their weight and reduce their risk of obesity. It also helps them to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. That’s a long list of health issues you can help your child avoid.

As society focuses on ways to reduce the risk of these health issues, in addition to health and wellness in general, ensuring physical activity and outdoor play is a part of the conversation. At Superior Play, our playsets, hoops and trampolines are all a part of a more significant initiative to make children more active and, as a result, healthier.

Outdoor Play Improves Mental Health

Mental health is also a part of the conversation. Antidepressant use is on the rise for children and the fastest-growing segment is preschool children between the ages of 0 and 5. The United States has become the largest consumer of ADHD medications in the world.

Outdoor play isn’t a substitute for necessary medication. However, a national study found that children’s stress levels fell within minutes of seeing green spaces, giving outdoor play a rave review for improving mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

While we have focused so far on children’s mental health, we should also mention the benefits of outdoor play for parents’ and grandparents’ mental health. Has your child ever been a ball of energy that seems impossible to contain? Having an outdoor space for children to play is a great way to give them a chance to expel their energy and for you to keep your sanity.

Outdoor Play Improves Academic Achievement

In addition to improving physical and mental health, national research by the CDC shows that physically active students tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance and classroom behaviors. What could be the cause of this strong correlation between physical play and academic achievement? Another study released in 2016 by the British Journal of Sports Medicine has the answer. This study found that children who play outdoors are more likely to have active brains because physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness are both good for a child’s brain development and function.

While physical activity can occur indoors with the right location — like a Superior Play retail showroom — it’s more likely that physical play will happen outdoors where there is more space to roam.

More Kids to Play

Every product has a target market. Without children, there’s no market for outdoor play equipment. According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of children under 18 years of age is expected to increase by eight million and reach 82 million by 2060. With the projections showing an increased number of children through 2060, we have proof that our target market is growing. Imagine what the outdoor and sports toy market will reach with an additional eight million children!

Outdoor Kids Equipment Increases Property Value

Today, we have the opportunity to bring a safe place to play in our backyards — and many families take advantage of it. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent or close friend to a family with children, having a safe space to entertain children is important. In fact, homebuyers frequently cite wanting a yard for their children as a reason for purchasing a single-family home. Therefore, it makes sense that having a playset on your property can raise your property value.

Sales Potential for the Outdoor Play Market

With this overview of the market, it’s easy to see how a business like Superior Play is positioned for growth. The benefits of outdoor play have been studied and several pieces of research have been published showing the connection between outdoor play and physical and mental health and development in children.

In addition to the research, more and more parents and parents-to-be are buying property that will someday be home to one or a few of the 82 million children who will live in the United States by 2060. While outdoor play for their children is important, increasing their property value is likely an additional perk.

With a firm foundation that began in the 1800s and the booming industry that exists over 200 years later, it’s clear to see playsets are not a fad and instead will continue to grow.

Capitalize on a Business Opportunity in the Outdoor Play Market

When you’re searching to invest in a business opportunity, stability and market growth are two basic key components. Superior Play is a part of a market that has been around for over 200 years and is showing strong projections for growth. We are fortunate to be one of the most recognizable brands in the industry.

In addition to stability and market growth, at Superior Play, we’re excited to have the opportunity to partner with parents all over the East Coast to provide a vital opportunity for their children to learn and grow through physical play by offering several models of playsets, hoops and trampolines. Whether they choose to purchase one of our products or bring their children to one of the open play sessions we host in our retail showrooms, we love that we’ve become a resource for communities and parents.

We are also excited to offer franchising opportunities to single- and multi-unit owner-operators who are interested in changing the future for America’s children. We’ve studied the research that we’ve documented for you above and we’re confident that, given the extensive and reputable research that ties outdoor play to health and intellect, we can make an impact. That impact is made through expanding the Superior Play network by offering sales and installation of playsets, basketball hoops and trampolines as well as a retail showroom that doubles as an indoor community playground.

When you become a franchisee with Superior Play, you’re investing in a brand instead of creating one from scratch. We’ll provide you with the support you need to create a successful business in your community — including site selection, store build consultation, finance package, complete training program, operations manual and ongoing marketing support.

We understand that making this business decision won’t happen overnight. If you’d like to learn more about opening a Superior Play franchise, we have some more information available on our website — and we’d love to hear from you, too. You can fill out a brief inquiry form and then we’ll be in touch to answer your questions and discuss this opportunity with you.

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