The February through April 2018 period (compared to the same three month timeframe in 2017) was a solid one for the U.S. team sports equipment industry. Sales grew in the mid-single digits, as the new baseball bat regulations drove baseball sales growth in the mid-teens. Composite bats improved by nearly half and pulled all the other categories up with it. These gains will be difficult to offset next year.
In composite bats, Rawlings more than doubled sales. Louisville Slugger grew in the high teens while DeMarini had a decline. Market share leader Easton grew by more than half.
Golf equipment also performed well, likely driven by the peak in Baby Boomer retirements, with sales up in the low teens. Golf club sales grew in the low teens, indicating new entrants, while ball sales only grew in the high singles, likely dampened by the decline in golf rounds played in April.
April posted the coldest temperatures in two decades, which put a damper on spring sports (with the exception of baseball). Soccer equipment sales were flat, while lacrosse had a mid-single digit decline. Field hockey had a surprising mid-teens increase. Tennis declined in the low singles.
Basketball equipment sales declined in the low teens, in line with weak basketball shoe sales.
Combat and wrestling-related sales grew in the low teens.
Protective gear, a standout category in 2017, slowed to a low single-digit increase.
Looking at team sports equipment brands, Callaway grew by a third, taking share from those who have exited the golf business. TaylorMade grew in the high singles, and Titleist in the high teens.
Rawlings grew by nearly a third and Easton by nearly half.
Spalding and Wilson both posted declines.
My expectation is that golf sales will flatten out as we move through the year, and baseball will hold up until the new bats are replaced, while the rest of team sports equipment market will be challenged.
SFIA Virtual Conference
Presenter: Matt Powell, Senior Industry Advisor – U.S. Sports
Presentation Title: Best Practices for Brands & Retail in the Current Environment
Date and Time: Thursday, September 24 at 1:45 - 2:30 PM (EST)
Description: Matt Powell hosts an interactive discussion on marketplace trends and what brands and retailers can do to win post-pandemic. Matt, a well-known and often quoted expert in the sports industry, will be presenting the trends and forces shaping our industry, its response to COVID-19, and its future. Matt will assess the industry across various categories, discuss the forces impacting manufacturers, retailers and consumers, and provide his predictions for the coming year. Drawing upon NPD's sales tracking data, his 40+ years in the industry, and insights from what has been successful in other industries NPD tracks, Matt will focus on best practices and what manufacturers and retailers can do to thrive in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.