Home Blog 2018 Team Sports Equipment Trends

The NPD Group Blog

Insights and Opinions From Analysts and Experts in More Than 20 Industries

Sneakernomics: Team Sports Equipment Year in Review

Apr 3, 2018
Matt Powell, Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor ;
Sports
@NPDMattPowell

Overall for 2017, U.S. team sports equipment sales declined in the single digits, but below the surface it was a mixed bag, with notable pockets of growth.

Baseball equipment sales for the full 12 months were down in the low singles; however, a solid increase in sales during Q4, as new regulation compliant bats hit the market, was a bright spot for the category. The strength in bats carried the other baseball categories with it. This baseball boost helped the team sports equipment market as a whole for the quarter, with Q4 sales up in the low-single digits and closing the year on an optimistic note. I expect the positive baseball trend to continue through springtime, and provide a nice lift for the market as we move through 2018.

Basketball sales fared well, growing in the low single digits for the year, as participation continued to improve. Racquet sports also grew in the low singles, as Baby Boomers are looking for an easy entry and inexpensive fitness activity.

Soccer had a challenging year, with sales down in the low teens. With 2018 being a World Cup year, I expect sales to bounce back.

Sales of American football equipment were down in the low singles, as parental concerns about injury weighed on the sport.

On the other hand, heightened safety concerns have been a boon for protective gear sales, which grew in the mid-teens for 2017. Parents are spending more on ways to keep their kids safe from injuries and concussions while playing sports, and this will continue to be a growth opportunity for the equipment market. Protective gear should be a major thrust for every sports retailer. There are three protective gear makers in the winners column for 2017: Shock Doctor, McDavid, and Battle.

In terms of brand highlights, Rawlings had a good year, even in the face of the changeover due to the baseball bat regulation. Easton could not quite overcome the switch in bat regulations, but I expect it will have a better 2018. Everlast grew on interest in mixed martial arts.

Overall, I expect the team sports equipment business will remain challenged for 2018 as participation continues to slide in a number of sports, but leveraging the growth areas and unlocking new opportunities in the activities that can use fresh attention, will likely boost sales in the months ahead.


Related Blog Posts


Sneakernomics: Predictions for Sports Retail in 2019
Sneakernomics: Predictions for Sports Retail in 2019

Matt Powell expects a rocky year for the sports industry in 2019, as macro issues will likely weigh heavily on the industry. In these challenging times, what can retailers and brands do to stand out? Powell outlines his expectations and what opportunities should be seized to thrive.

Sneakernomics: What Really Happened with Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales in 2018
Sneakernomics: What Really Happened with Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales in 2018

Matt Powell provides the highlights and his analysis on how the brands and categories across the U.S. athletic footwear and activewear markets fared in 2018.

Sneakernomics: Golf and Team Sports Equipment 2018 Recap
Sneakernomics: Golf and Team Sports Equipment 2018 Recap

Matt Powell recaps how sales fared for baseball, golf, soccer, and other sports equipment products in 2018. Baseball/softball equipment sales grew largely as a result of new youth bat safety regulations that required most youth players to replace their bats. Golf was another bright spot for the market. After years of soft sales, the category bounced back. One of the top growth categories in golf were complete golf sets, particularly at opening price-points, suggesting new entrants.

Sneakernomics: Nobody Wins a Race to the Bottom
Sneakernomics: Nobody Wins a Race to the Bottom

According to Matt Powell, Holiday 2017 was the most promotional on record for the U.S. sports industry – that is, until Holiday 2018. Powell says we need to return the industry to one of aspiration and inspiration, or we face the risk of running a race to the bottom; and that’s a race nobody wins. A new year brings new opportunity to change course.

Subscribe to our blog

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.