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Black Friday 2015 In The Sports Business

Nov 27, 2015
Matt Powell, Vice President, Industry Analyst ;
Sports

After a morning of retail reconnaissance, this is what Black Friday looks like in the Sports industry.

Sports retailers began to send out Black Friday offers as early as the first week of November, with most offering deals the Sunday before the Thanksgiving holiday. This has reduced the need for shoppers to get up early and, ultimately, will weaken the importance of Black Friday as a shopping event.

After the warmest October on record, mild temperatures continued to dominate most of the country. The unseasonable temperatures are hurting the cold weather businesses. One year ago, the East Coast had a major snow storm, which jumpstarted the winter businesses. Eastern retailers will face very tough comparison this year.

Tying into the warmer autumn weather effect, cold weather apparel and footwear remained challenged. With department store retailers predicting big discounts on these categories, we should expect this business to remain weak and then see major price reductions as we approach Christmas.

In terms of athletic footwear, many shoes featured in Black Friday-themed flyers were advertised at full price. This confirms the continued strength of the athletic footwear trend. Discounting on price in athletic footwear was at a moderate level.

Specifically, the Black Friday Jordan Brand releases are typically one of the largest of the year. This year’s shoe is the Air Jordan 8 Aqua Remastered ($190). The Air Jordan 8 Aqua was first worn during the 1993 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. It is one of the most wanted by fans.

While performance basketball has plateaued, Marquee Retro Basketball is still one of the strongest categories in athletic footwear.

In athletic apparel, the discounting was muted, just as we saw in athletic footwear. Most of the major advertised items were only 25 percent off, while many key items were advertised at full price. Sales are strong for athletic apparel outside of cold weather categories.

Looking at major brands, the week of Black Friday is one of Nike’s sanctioned events, thanks in large part to its Minimum Advertised Price policy. Retailers were permitted to feature select Nike products at 25 percent off. This was a very successful event during back-to-school.

Fans of Under Armour (UA) can score a deal as well. To parry the Nike MAP week, UA is offering 25 percent off all Baselayer and Big Logo hoodies. Under Armour Thrill running shoes (MSRP $59.99) were offered at $39.99.

The licensed apparel/fan wear category remains challenged. Retailers featured deep discounts this Black Friday, as much as 50 percent off. There are very few exciting new ideas in licensed apparel.

Looking at devices, last year wearable technology items were featured in many Black Friday flyers, mostly at full price. As the category appears to be plateauing, the marketing of these times appeared to be reduced.

As we saw last year, the challenged gun business saw some of the deepest discounts. We can expect this business to remain difficult over the near term.

While the golf business in big box retailers appears to have stabilized, golf equipment was heavily discounted for Black Friday. The Millennials remain a major structural problem for the golf industry.

We are having a terrific overall year in the sports business. The sports industry again appears to be off to a solid start for the holiday season.