One of the few bright spots in U.S. sports retail is the team sports and golf equipment business, which grew in the low teens for the third quarter.

Baseball sales were up about 20% for the quarter, as parents are steering their kids towards the game in hopes of avoiding the concussion issues plaguing football and soccer. Bat sales grew by about 25%, which was led by non-wood bats. Baseball glove and ball sales grew in the high teens.

Basketball sales improved as basketball hoop systems were up in the high teens and ball sales up in the low singles. My theory here is that as Millennials are buying houses and having kids, parents are adding hoop systems to their driveways.

Football and lacrosse sales were up in the high teens and soccer up in the low singles. Combat and wrestling equipment grew in the mid singles.

Racquet sports also grew in the low teens led by a surge in pickleball. As more Boomers retire, pickleball participation is soaring.

The steadily increasing base of retirees is having a positive impact on the golf business as well. For Q3, golf sales grew in the low teens. Golf clubs improved in the high singles, led by full golf sets, while ball sales were up in the low teens. Both trends indicate new participants are entering the market. I believe sales will remain positive over the holidays as consumers look to gift, or even self-gift, these types of products. Based on brands, Callaway sales grew in the high singles for Q3, TaylorMade improved in the high singles, and Titleist was up in the mid-teens.

In terms of other brand highlights in the team sports equipment market, Wilson and Spalding grew in the low teens, while Rawlings, Easton, and Franklin all posted increases of about 25%.

The health and fitness equipment market did not fare so well in Q3, with sales only up slightly. Cardiovascular machines declined in the low singles on account of weak elliptical sales. Strength training equipment sales dropped by about 9%. On the other hand, free weights were up slightly, while exercise and fitness mats grew by about 25%. This does not include yoga mats, which were down in the low singles.  

Looking at brands, Proform sales declined in the low teens, while Nordic Track grew by more than 25%. Bowflex was up in the high singles as Gold’s Gym was down sharply.

Overall, based on these results I am optimistic about how the sports and fitness equipment markets will fare during this holiday season.