BOSTON — As measurements of the U.S. economy seem to indicate that the recession is nearing its end, revenue numbers from International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) member clubs also indicate a slight uptick for the industry.

Surveys from the association show that second quarter 2009 revenue numbers were higher than first quarter revenue numbers (although still not as high as second quarter 2008 numbers), and July 2009 revenue was steady or improved compared to July 2008 revenue for the majority of respondents.

The 2009 Second Quarter Index report, which demonstrates the financial performance of 18 U.S. health and sports club companies (representing 632 facilities), showed increases in three key performance metrics when compared to first quarter 2009. Total revenue increased by 0.2 percent, non-dues revenue improved by 2.8 percent, and EBITDAR (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent) increased by 7 percent. However, total membership revenue dropped by 1.7 percent. Additionally, EBITDAR as a percent of total revenue improved from 26 percent of total revenue in first quarter 2009 to 30.7 percent of total revenue in the second quarter.

However, second quarter 2009 total revenue, membership dues/revenue and non-dues revenue are still lower compared to second quarter 2008. Total revenue dropped by 5.2 percent, total membership/dues revenue was down by 5.3 percent and non-dues revenue decreased by 3.5 percent. These decreases could reflect the national drop in gross domestic product by 1 percent in the second quarter as consumers have limited their discretionary spending over the past year, IHRSA says.

In the second survey, IHRSA's Monthly Trends Survey, 67 participating IHRSA club owners indicated comparable or improved performance in several key areas of business for July 2009 compared to July 2008. More than half of respondents indicated steady or increased membership dues/fees revenue (19 percent steady and 36 percent up) and number of membership accounts (17 percent steady and 41 percent increased). For non-dues services, 35 percent indicated comparable revenue to July 2008, and 27 percent indicated increased non-dues revenue.

Still, 45 percent of club owners reported declines in membership dues,42 percent reported declines in membership accounts, and 37 percent reported declines in non-dues revenue.

“Consistent performance in these vital indicators during what is typically an off-peak month in the industry and within the context of a tough economy indicates that club operators are closely managing their businesses,” Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA's manager of research, said in a statement from IHRSA.

Forty-nine percent of participants also said that overall member and non-member visits had increased for the first seven months of 2009 in comparison with the same time span in 2008.

As far as future revenue goes, 79 percent of respondents anticipate equal or increased revenue over the next three months.

MONTH END JULY 2009 VS. JULY 2008 PERFORMANCE*

Down About the Same Up
Membership Dues/Fees Revenue 45% 19% 36%
Non-Dues Revenue 37% 35% 27%
Membership Accounts 42% 17% 41%

*(95% sample response) Total survey responses, n=67 Source: IHRSA's Monthly Trends Survey

PERFORMANCE YEAR TO DATE AS OF JULY 2009 VS. AS OF JULY 2008*

Down About the Same Up
Number of Visits (Member plus Nonmember) 16% 35% 49%
EBITDAR 41% 26% 33%

*(95% sample response) Total survey responses, n=67 Source: IHRSA's Monthly Trends Survey