Massage Therapy Industry Trends Difficult to Predict (Part II)

Last week I wrote about the increase in the size of the massage therapy industry over the past five years, but concluded that workplace massage was most likely not responsible for that. This week I’ll explain why.

To start, 2010 looks to be a bad year for the massage therapy industry as a whole, with the most recent AMTA consumer fact sheet showing an overall decline in the number of people who received at least one massage in the past year (to 18 percent of respondents in the 2010 fact sheet, down from 22 percent of respondents in 2009). This is the first time in three years that the percentage has decreased. The majority of this decline came from men, of whom only 10 percent received at least one massage in the past year, down from 18 percent the year before.

The decline overall and among men is attributed to the economic climate of the past year, and it leads to the conclusion that individuals, and most likely corporations as well, are, at least temporarily, cutting back on the amount of massage therapy they receive.

Furthermore, the numbers from the AMTA’s fact sheets during the good times of massage therapy industry expansion (from 2005 to 2009) don’t point to a dramatic increase in the amount of workplace massage provided. Here’s why:

–       The number of men who have received a massage over the course of a year has not increased substantially (in 2006 it was ~12 percent compared to 10 percent in 2010, with minor rises in between those two dates). The number of women receiving massage over the course of a year also has stayed more or less the same (from ~22 percent in 2006 to 25 percent in 2010). If more workplaces were providing massage, the number of men and women receiving massage would be increasing at a steady rate, much like it did from 1996 to 2006, when massage rates for both genders more than doubled.

–       The survey also reports on where respondents receive massage therapy, and the most popular place is not the workplace, but the spa, a trend that has increased from 2005 to 2007.

While the number of massage recipients declined in 2010, and workplace massage doesn’t seem to be growing in popularity, there are lots of reasons to be upbeat about the massage therapy industry. I’ll write about that next week!

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