By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Sporting goods makers and retailers are making a more aggressive play for female shoppers.

Sports Authority Inc., the nation's No. 1 sporting goods retailer, is working to attract more women by sprucing up its fashions, brightening its interiors and carving out separate women's shops at the front of the store � a change from the merchandise relegated to the back corners.

Reebok International Ltd., which jump-started the aerobics trend in the 1980s but then lost its way, is trying to win back the female customers it lost. It's overhauling its women's business, and is playing up women in its advertising.

Nike Inc. has two women-only boutiques in California called Nike Goddess that are serving as a laboratory to test new merchandising concepts.

These moves show that the industry is finally realizing that merely stocking up on jogging bras and biking shorts isn't enough to woo women consumers, who tend to be harder to please than men. Unlike men, who are more loyal to their stores, women tend to shop at a wider variety of stores, from Saks Fifth Avenue to Target, analysts said. They also demand more from the products they buy.

P. Pureheart