Port Washington, N.Y., April 25, 2022 – In what can be considered the most normal spring sports season in three years, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, and racquet sports equipment sales reaped the benefits of a growing sense of normalcy in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022. U.S. revenue across these core spring sports categories together increased 19%, year over year, according to The NPD Group. Sales were 35% higher for the quarter, compared to 2019.
“Many schools were still virtual and scholastic sports in limbo last spring due to the pandemic, but that’s changed in a big way this year,” said Matt Powell, senior sports industry advisor at NPD. “Kids are back on the field, which means that parents are buying sports equipment. Leagues that were limited during the pandemic are also back in action, translating to more players buying equipment.”
Baseball and softball equipment sales revenue grew by 19% in the first quarter. Sales of all product categories increased, including bats, balls, gloves and mitts, protective gear, and training aids. Lacrosse equipment sales grew 72% and, highlighting the importance of safety in contact sports, lacrosse protective gear sales increased 114%. Soccer equipment sales grew by 10%, propelled by ball sales.
The growth in racquet sports equipment was led by pickleball. In fact, sales revenue from pickleball paddles and balls together grew by 53%, as tennis racquet and ball sales declined. Pickleball is most popular with Baby Boomers in the U.S., although the sport is also growing in popularity among older Millennials, according to NPD Checkout data.
“While these results bode well for the sporting goods industry, we should anticipate that the trendlines will return to more typical rates, as we move through the remainder of the year and routines continue to fall back into place,” said Powell.