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Sneakernomics: The Golf Business Remains Challenged

Jan 18, 2018
Matt Powell, Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor ;
Sports

The golf retail market in the U.S. remains challenged, largely impacted by the fact that Millennials are not picking up the game at the rate that Boomers are aging out of it. As I wrote about here, there are major structural issues which have hurt this business.

Golf equipment sales were challenged in 2016 and look to be even worse in 2017; total golf sales year-to-date through November 2017 declined in the mid-teens. Across key categories including golf clubs, balls, and gloves, sales have not fared positively.  

Specifically, golf club sales—an indicator of new players entering the game—were down by more than 20 percent. Nike’s exit from the category accounted for about 13 percent of the total decline in clubs. Of the major brands, only Cobra picked up a low-teens sales increase and +260 basis points in share. Callaway and TaylorMade both acquired share from the Nike void, but have experienced a decline in club sales over last year. A bright spot for the category, however, was a 5 percent increase in the average selling price.

Golf ball sales—an indicator of rounds played—declined in the mid-single digits. The Nike golf ball clearance has had a negative impact on the category, as has a sales decline from category share leader Titleist. TaylorMade, Callaway, and Top Flite, who appear to have benefited from Nike’s exit, grew between 110-250 basis points year-to-date.

Of the top 15 brands in golf, Cobra, Top Flite, and Pride were the ones to show gains year-to-date.

The golf equipment business is a market share game right now; for someone to win, others must lose. What the golf industry needs to focus on is participation, both in terms of holding onto their existing participants and adopting new ones.

Source: The NPD Group / U.S. Retail Tracking Service, January-November 2017



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