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Earlier this month, I wrote about the slow start to the spring sports season. Looking at the traditional fall season sports, including soccer, American football and basketball, I am expecting sales to move in a similar direction.  

Soccer sales overall have been as soft in the U.S. as they have been in Europe. Soccer equipment was a $700 million business in the U.S last year; and sales were down in the low single digits in 2016. Soccer balls, the largest category, declined in the low single digits, and soccer protective gear declined by a similar amount, while soccer training aids had a nice increase. Sales of soccer boots were down in the high single digits.

Both Adidas and Nike, the two largest soccer equipment brands in the U.S, had soft sales in 2016.

American football equipment sales in the U.S. grew in the low single digits, driven by a high single-digit increase in footballs, the largest category. Most other football equipment categories declined for the year, including football cleats which declined in the low teens.

Wilson held the largest share of the football equipment market, with its sales growing in the low teens. Nike and Under Armour football equipment both posted declines.

Basketball was one of the best-performing categories for 2016, with sales up in the high single digits. Hoop systems (a high ticket item) had great sales, which increased in the high single digits. Basketballs grew in the mid-singles, and accessories and training aids also grew. Basketball footwear declined in the high teens in 2016; however, we know from NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service that the majority of basketball shoes are not purchased with the intention of wearing them for sport.

The four largest basketball equipment brands—Spaulding, Lifetime, Wilson, and Nike—all grew in 2016.

Given the overall soft start to 2017 in sports equipment, I do not expect significant growth in the fall sports market.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, Annual 2016



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