Home Blog 2020 Hot Topics Impacting Sports Retail in 2020
Jan 21, 2020

Overarching Themes Impacting Sports Retail in 2020

Subscribe to our blog

Last week, I outlined my outlook and expectations for the major footwear, apparel, and equipment categories within the sports retail space. These outcomes are largely dependent on trends and events happening more broadly today. Below are the key, bigger picture themes I expect will influence sports retail during the year.

Trade concerns and uncertainty will loom over the industry making planning particularly challenging. More brands will move manufacturing out of China where they can. My greatest concern is if the Chinese consumer turns on Western brands. If sentiment goes against the West, the biggest driver of brand growth will quickly dry up.

A potential recession will be another dark cloud over the business. However, if we were to go into recession, there are some opportunities. Traditionally, categories such as running shoes and camping equipment have outperformed in a recession, even as discretionary purchases diminish.

The presidential election will be a distraction in the second half of the year. Consumer sentiment rides on the outcome.

E-commerce, as it has, will dominate the space. I anticipate that all of the growth we will see in 2020 will come from e-commerce. Physical stores remain a liability. We will continue to have rationalization in sports retail. Some businesses have just been passed by, while others will be cut by brands as they frantically grow their DTC. There will be fewer sports retail doors at the end of 2020 compared to the beginning.

Data will be more important than ever. With the consumer in charge of fashion trends, brands and retailers must mine the data to uncover the next new thing. Success will go to the informed and nimble brands.

The Olympics will have little retail impact. It will be an opportunity for brands to showcase new technologies and models; however, the Olympics remains more of a marketing play and awareness builder than a sales driver.

I expect that eSports and sports gambling will grow exponentially in 2020, but will have little impact on the sports retail business. Endorsements may sell a few t-shirts and sneakers, but will have no real commercial impact.

Women’s sports will continue to thrive, as will the women who play them. This remains the sports industry’s greatest opportunity. But support for women must be deep and sincere. Saying something and doing another will not work.

Inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability are all topics that are top of mind for young consumers. Brands can do well while doing good. But brands must be transparent and purposeful about their efforts. It is not enough to espouse empty platitudes. Brands must live out their values transparently, or suffer the consequences.

Stay current in your industry

Related Blog Posts

Tagged: Sports

The Internet of Fitness, Part 1: Plugging Into a New Era of Sports
The Internet of Fitness, Part 1: Plugging Into a New Era of Sports

eSports has the potential to change the way sports is perceived and pursued, and open new avenues for traditional manufacturers to create and market products. In his blog series, Dirk dives into what he considers the Internet of Fitness.

Sneakernomics: Opportunities in Sports Retail
Sneakernomics: Opportunities in Sports Retail

A booming shared economy inspired by reselling and recycling, socialized competition like Topgolf, and sales potential from the growing number of Baby Boomer retirees are among the opportunities Matt Powell outlines in his latest blog.

Sneakernomics: The Sports Business in an Olympic Year
Sneakernomics: The Sports Business in an Olympic Year

While the Olympics remains less of a sales driver and more of a marketing play for U.S. sports retail, the latter is still important for business as a brand awareness builder and an opportunity to showcase new products and technologies.

Sneakernomics: Athletic Footwear and Apparel Year in Review 2019
Sneakernomics: Athletic Footwear and Apparel Year in Review 2019

Matt Powell recaps the categories, brands, and trends that impacted athletic footwear and active apparel sales in 2019.


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

© 2020 The NPD Group, Inc.