U.S. economic gains mean good business for massage: report

Massage Therapy Canada staff
January 28, 2014
By Massage Therapy Canada staff
Jan. 28, 2014 — An improving macroeconomic landscape and a growing connection with the health-care sector has benefited the massage services industry over the five years to 2014, according to a report from Los Angeles-based industry research firm IBISWorld.
Given the discretionary characteristics of industry products, the anticipated increase in per capita disposable income over the five-year period has provided consumers with the means to afford additional massages. While the share of domestic adults that have received a massage in a given year has declined from 2009 to 2012, this is primarily due to heightened unemployment and consumer deleveraging, which are trends that are anticipated to improve in 2013 and 2014, IBISWorld stated.

Industry revenue is anticipated to increase over the five years to 2014 and this growth includes a slight rise in revenue expected in 2014 alone.

Market share concentration within the Massage Services industry is low, with the top four companies (Massage Envy, Elements Therapeutic Massage Inc., Massage Heights and Zen Massage USA) accounting for less than 13.4 per cent of total industry revenue.

Moreover, the relationship between industry operators and the health-care sector continues to grow, with a large number of clients turning to massage services for medical or health reasons.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, 61 per cent of domestic adults would like to see their insurance carrier cover massage therapy. Primarily due to this demand, the number of massage therapists that receive referrals from health-care professionals has been steadily increasing over time. Similarly, the number of massage therapists that receive insurance reimbursements has also been climbing, with more than three-fourth of therapists currently accepting this method of payment, indicating that it is a worthwhile business practice.

According to IBISWorld Industry Analyst Stephen Hoopes, "Over the five years to 2019, industry revenue is forecast to increase at an annualized rate." According to the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of massage therapists is anticipated to increase by 20 per cent from 2010 to 2020, a rate that exceeds the national average largely due to improving income levels.

Moreover, "the dominance of non-employers in the industry is anticipated to continue over the five years to 2019," said Hoopes.

In addition, despite a substantial amount of initial training, the industry's average wage is expected to only reach moderate levels in 2014. Consequently, as the industry's relatively low average wage is anticipated to persist over the five years to 2019, most therapists will find it necessary to maintain other sources of income, the IBISWorld report said.

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