After years of low-single digit growth, 25% to 30% increases in 2021 were standard among retailers, and for brands, a mere 20% growth in many cases resulted in a loss of market share! Fast forward to January 1, 2023, and the channel once again enjoyed a record year of growth. The giant growth rate wasn't reprised, but a very sustainable mid to high-single digit growth rate surpassed even the staggering numbers from the prior year.
As we look toward 2023, the outlook continues to be bright. Running stores and the brands that support them continue to redefine who the running customer is and what inspires them. And how we connect with customers will be supported by elevated access to data. I'll repeat what I said in a recent interview with Sporting Goods Business: "The 'back-room' tools that have come into wide use have been instrumental in the channel's growth, and the Running Industry Association will continue to support that trend with initiatives that provide data-driven business connections between brands and retailers."
A good example of 2023 RIA support initiatives include our partnership with Upper Quadrant, which gives member retailers free access to UQ Cadence Benchmarks reports. These weekly reports will continue to provide retailers with key insights designed to drive higher profitability. In addition, we're working hard to deliver on our promise of democratized product data access. The RIA Product Data Collaborative, or PDC as we're calling it, will provide a centralized repository for brand product data, making it much easier for retailers to manage product data. The PDC will also help manage MAP pricing, and will create transactional efficiencies that will boost sales.
Data and information aren't our only initiatives for 2023. Runchella will return May 8-11 with a "Your Show, Your Way" theme. Plus, we'll save our members money via our new FedEx discount program in partnership with Parcel Management Group and PartnerShip™. The program will include the highest freight discounts we've ever offered, along with online dashboard savings reports and expanded freight support services, all free of charge for RIA members.
Stay tuned for more details, but here's the bottom line: The run specialty channel is elevating its game in 2023, and so is the RIA!
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