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COVID-19 Update: Club Industry Shows Signs of Recovery

Posted by Club Benchmarking on 9/15/20 4:53 PM

Club Benchmarking, the industry’s leading provider of business intelligence and data-driven insight, reports some signs of improvement for clubs impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. Analysis of data from nearly 300 clubs participating in the Club Benchmarking Strategic Monthly Dashboard reveals these findings for July 2020:

  • In keeping with trends since March, the biggest impact in July was on non-dues revenue which serves as a proxy for member activity. Year-over-year, non-dues revenue declined 12.9% at the median which is a significant improvement relative to year-over-year declines in April (-66.4%), May (-49.8%) and June (-27.2%). The trend likely reflects a gradual increase in member activity as shelter-in-place orders are eased. Average non-dues revenue dropped from $420,877 in July 2019 to $361,226 in July 2020. Looking at aggregated data from participating clubs, non-dues revenue for the month of July was down $16.5 Million, from $116.6 Million in 2019 to $100.1 Million this year.

  • For clubs without golf, i.e. yacht clubs and city/athletic clubs, non-dues revenue was down 26.3% at the median which shows a recovery from June’s year-over-year decline of 47%. For clubs with golf, non-dues revenue was down 10.1% at the median.

  • If a long-term impact of the pandemic does arise, it will manifest as membership decline. Thus far, membership counts are essentially flat in 2020 versus 2019 through the end of July.

  • In July 2020, the median initiation fee was $33,000 to join a club with golf and $10,600 for clubs without golf. Tracking year-over-year initiation fee changes in July 2020, 68% of clubs had no change, 5% decreased the initiation fee and 27% increased the initiation fee. Results were identical in June reports.

  • July reporting also showed that 25% of clubs had a wait list and 24% had a sell list. Of the clubs with a wait list, the median number of prospective members on the list was 15. The median number of members on the sell list was 16.

  • In clubs with golf reporting July 2020 data, the total cost of belonging was $11,087 at the median, up 3.7% from July 2019. In clubs without golf, the median was $4,126 which is an increase of 2.6% year over year.

  • In aggregate, debt decreased 4.9% at the median year over year. Capital investment declined 11.4%, which may be an early indicator of clubs delaying investment decisions. This trend will be monitored closely in the coming months.

Chris Davis, lead data analyst for the Club Benchmarking Strategic Monthly Dashboard attributes the improved results to an encouraging shift in focus. “Member activity at clubs is clearly coming back to 2019 levels and even exceeding those results for some clubs,” he explains. “Lingering restrictions on group gatherings have essentially eliminated revenue from events like banquets, weddings and golf outings. The positive trend in non-dues revenue suggests that member activity is making up for the loss of revenue from those mostly non-member events.”

The Club Benchmarking Strategic Monthly Dashboard (SMD) is a business intelligence service for the private club industry that makes it possible to systematically measure monthly trends in Membership, Cost of Belonging, Initiation Fee and Joining, and Finance. Nearly 300 clubs in 38 states and four Canadian provinces are currently using the service. To learn more, visit

Topics: Executive Dashboard/KPIs, Finance and Operations, Strategic Monthly Dashboard