In today’s world, it seems everyone is an athlete, an outdoorsman, and a yogi. Or wants to be. Or at least wants to look like one.
To help you win in this growing market, The NPD Group provides the broadest and deepest global view of the sports and recreation marketplace. With NPD you get the most complete, accurate, and comprehensive information about your products’ sales and your consumers to help you track trends, identify business opportunities, and grow sales.
NPD’s information is a critical ingredient in new product forecasting, segmentation, price and promotion evaluation, and market forecasting. Categories include hiking, camping, snow and ski, cycling, running and fitness, athletic footwear, active apparel, and team sports equipment.
The NPD Group’s data delivery tools equip you to dig into your products’ performance at the category, brand, and item levels. And you can take a step back to understand the macro view of sales trends by looking across relevant categories, for a complete industry view.
A team of dedicated sports industry analysts will help you put the data in context. They mine our consumer and point-of-sale (POS) research to tell you who buys your products – and your competitors’ products – and where, when, how and why they use them.
The NPD Group has the largest POS footprint in the industry. NPD collects weekly and monthly sales data from more than 30,000 doors globally, spanning all industry channels of distribution, including independent specialty stores, sport specialty stores, sporting goods, department stores, mass merchants, and ecommerce. This allows you to continuously monitor sales of men’s, women’s, and children’s sports apparel, footwear, equipment, and accessories.
Monthly Retail Tracking: The Retail Tracking Service delivers the most detailed point-of-sale information available to guide your critical business decisions. Standard measures available at the category, brand, and item levels include unit sales/share, dollar sales/share, and average selling price. Advanced measures available for specialty channels include inventory, margins, and GMROI.
Weekly Retail Tracking: Monitor product launches, promotions, and seasonal sales cycles, especially when fast market response is required. This service delivers a clear view of a promotion’s impact during the week or weeks the promotional event occurred. It gives you the flexibility to more effectively analyze sales influenced by holidays, seasons, and even weather events. This service also allows you to analyze actual market price changes with increased precision, so you can better align pricing with drivers, and make apples-to-apples comparisons to the previous year.
Stay on top of shifting preferences and trends with insights from consumer panelists who have agreed to provide information about their purchasing habits, usage, and attitudes. You can use this information to analyze consumer behavior, preferences, and purchase drivers as input for product development, brand management, and marketing strategies.
Athletic and Outdoor Segmentation
Identify and reach specific consumer groups so you can efficiently target and capture your most valuable consumers. Use NPD’s Athletic and Outdoor Segmentation to drive more sales using targeted messaging. It also can help you refine your merchandising mix and assortment once you understand the differences among key consumer segments. Seven athletic segments and four outdoor segments are included.
Assess regional strengths and opportunities, monitor competitive performance by region down to the DMA level, and plan and evaluate effectiveness of targeted activities. Call on NPD’s insight into retail sales in specific regions or store groupings using Geo Level information from our Retail Tracking Service.
Checkout is the gold standard consumer receipt panel for tracking and analyzing consumer behavior across general merchandise and foodservice. We offer the most robust e-commerce data plus tailored analytics to help you keep current customers and win new ones.
NPD’s Analytic Solutions group includes senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that help clients predict areas of risk and growth to improve marketing and product development. By combining NPD’s unique data assets and industry expertise with state-of-the-discipline research techniques and proprietary solutions, our Analytic Solutions team is able to answer clients’ most pressing business questions.
Our partnership with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) gives OIA members the ability to access a top-level outdoor industry report covering sales of outdoor equipment, equipment accessories, apparel, and footwear, at a discounted price.
The report provides insight into performance across the three core outdoor retail channels: outdoor specialty; sports specialty ecommerce; and athletic specialty & sporting goods. With this insight on outdoor industry retail trends, industry members gain easier access to current market opportunities and trends to better evaluate the business of outdoor retail, drive sales, and improve results.
The report is intended to provide a comprehensive view of the core outdoor marketplace, including growth and sales trends across all outdoor categories from hiking, camping and climbing to trail running and mountaineering.
In this report you can review sales
- Time periods (current, 3 month rolling, 12 month rolling)
- Sub class
- Sub class segment
This report provides the following metrics:
- Dollars sold
- Dollar share
- Units sold
- Unit share
- Average selling price
For nearly a decade, our Global Sport Estimate has been the go-to source of industry insight for sports industry leaders around the world. You can use the 2017 release to explore new data and insights on the categories that matter to your business. No other source matches this report’s breadth and depth of sports industry insight. See what sports activities and product categories are capturing consumers’ attention and spending, across 19 countries and 17 sports. Use it to spot opportunities for growth and investment, understand the dynamics in a variety of sports, assess your market share, and gauge the impact of exchange rates.
France Sports Apparel and Athletic Footwear Industry Grows 4 Percent to 6.68 Billion Euros Over the 12 Months Ending September 2018
Market research company, The NPD Group, offers year-to-date sales insights for sports apparel and athletic footwear in France.
Within the $18.8 billion outdoor industry, the bag business and fanny pack comeback is being driven by travel and consumer affinity for experiential spending, while weather has helped outerwear sales.
With both the 2018 PGA Championship and US Open Tennis Championship coming up, the golf and tennis equipment markets have something to celebrate.
The service will provide attending retailers with complimentary category reports of their choice on nationwide selling trends and top sellers, along with a list of the top-performing brands and items being exhibited at Interbike.
U.S. Outdoor Industry Sales Have Declined, but Growth Opportunities Exist with Consumers’ Appetite for Experiential Spending
Outdoor industry sales overall have been in decline, but pockets of growth suggest that adaptable products associated with travel, as well as those tied to replenishment are bright spots within the outdoor marketplace.
While the soccer sportswear market in Russia is smaller compared to countries like the U.S., U.K., and Germany, it shows growth potential. Over the past year, soccer shoe sales in Russia grew by 8 percent while the apparel market remained flat; however, growth is expected to accelerate thanks to the World Cup.
In the U.S. bike specialty market, mountain and electric bicycles are leading the pack today. Higher price bands are growing; new brands are emerging; and innovations in drivetrains, suspension, and electronics are taking place.
Let it Snow! Early Season Sales for Snow Sports Gear Begin Strong, but Weather Shifts the Game, Reports NPD
Early 2017/2018 season sales for the U.S. snow sports market were off to a great start; however, a lack of snow caused December sales to fall short, according to global information company The NPD Group. Dollar sales grew 8 percent from August through November 2017 compared to the prior year, but a 6 percent decline in December slowed the season-to-date’s growth rate down to 1 percent. Thus far, the snow industry generated $3.9 billion in retail sales during these collective five months.
The U.S. athletic footwear industry grew by 2 percent in 2017, generating $19.6 billion in sales, according to global information company The NPD Group. Unit sales also grew by 2 percent and average selling price remained flat, at $58.16.
Sales of Baseball Bats Grow Double Digits as New USABat Approved Products Begin Hitting the Market, Reports The NPD Group
Baseball/softball bat sales in the U.S. were down in the 12 months ending October 2017,* but experienced a turnaround in the last two months to coincide with the updated USA Baseball Bat (USABat) guidelines, according to retail sales data from global information company The NPD Group. Looking at the eight weeks since new USABat approved products began reaching store shelves in September, dollar sales for the category have grown by 11 percent, with the growth being driven by a 24 percent increase in average selling price.**
The emergence of the endless aisle has created stiff competition for brands and retailers trying to win online. Uncover the latest e-commerce trends across fashion, home, and technology. Read on to see how successful brands and retailers are winning by leveraging digital content to engage with consumers.
We asked our top industry advisors to weigh in on how they see Holiday 2018 shaping up for their respective industries. Drawing upon Holiday 2017 trends, the retail environment during the first three quarters of 2018, and our 2018 Holiday Purchase Intentions survey, the advisors shared what to expect this holiday season, both in stores and online.
In this paper, released at Summer Outdoor Retailer, NPD's Industry Advisor Matt Powell looks to growing industries' strategies to fuel the outdoor sports market.
The South Korean government’s push to shorten the number of working hours has resulted in more spare time for the country’s women to become more aware of, and involved in, sports activities.
What can fashion brands learn from sports? Hear Matt Powell’s expertise.
In the future, brands and retailers will adapt to increased consumer demand for more seamless experiences. See how this will impact every aspect of their lives—from the kitchen to the gym.
Consumer spending in the global sports market is growing, and that means there is abundant opportunity for companies that know how to get the right products in the right places for the right people. See what we see — by country, by sport, by use, and more.
While U.S. cycling sales have been soft across the “rest of market” channel, the specialty channel has been stable thanks to the pockets of growth and shifts that are driving the market.
It’s no secret that brick and mortar retail is in trouble. Even industry giants are closing hundreds of stores. How can retailers bring shoppers back to physical stores? Hear what some Millennials had to say about the future of sports retail.
Phone calls, texts, or email? Watch now to hear how Millennials prefer to communicate.
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts
At Outdoor Retailer’s first ever November show earlier this month, I put a different spin on the format of my industry trend breakfast and focused on a Q&A, taking questions from the audience. Here are some the questions and common themes I’ve identified as being top of mind for folks in the industry.
We are seeing more subscription boxes at our doorstep, Millennial-friendly catalogs in our mailbox, and pop-up stores around our cities. What do you see as the future of these retail trends for the apparel and general soft goods markets?
While there’s a lot of hype around subscriptions, we are seeing a high level of subscription abandonment. If subscription services are to succeed, they need to develop products that are more personalized. They also must leverage their best customers, as they represent the majority of the sales. Catalogs present another way for brands and retailers to be omnipresent – available to the consumer whenever, wherever, and however they want to shop. Pop-ups are fun and a great brand builder, but I don’t expect them to be commercially profitable in the long run. However, with the amount of retail vacancies, there may be an opportunity to exploit the lower rents.
What are some of the major generational trends? What other cohorts should the outdoor industry focus on bringing in?
Boomers are no longer acquiring many things. Instead, they are spending their money on experiences, such as travel. The outdoor industry has so far failed to fully leverage this interest in travel. Millennials remain cash strapped, so they are looking for value and versatility. The outdoor industry remains too focused on pinnacle products and is leaving money on the table. The secondary market (rent, buy used, Uber-like services) is ideal for the Millennial as it is less expensive for each use and much more convenient. Both Millennials and Gen Z consumers are supporters of sustainability, and the outdoor industry must raise the bar on speaking forcefully to these issues. In terms of other groups that should be emphasized, the outdoor industry continues to underserve the female consumer. The women’s market is our greatest failure, yet our great opportunity. In addition, in presentations I have highlighted a study done by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) on the opportunity to leverage the interests of the Hispanic consumer in the outdoor industry. So far, this suggestion has been largely ignored, but I believe there’s opportunity with this consumer segment.
As more brands focus on sustainability, do you see economies of scale helping to drive down cost, so the consumer does not necessarily have to pay more for these products?
I do think we will see some cost relief due to scale, but sustainable products are always going to be more expensive. However, a recent NPD study showed that one-third of Millennial women are willing to spend more on sustainable products. The study also showed that many consumers have no idea whether they are buying a sustainable product or not. The industry can do much more to educate consumers and tell their sustainability story.
How important are collaborations within the outdoor industry? Who is doing it well, and why?
The outdoor industry is far too focused on pinnacle athletes; the emphasis must shift to the everyday user. The beauty market is a great industry to learn from in this regard. When we look at the beauty business, which remains one of the hottest industries that NPD tracks, there are some important lessons. Beauty is moving away from celebrity influencers to micro-influencers who have a small, but loyal following. These micro-influencers are honest, open and relatable.
How do you see e-commerce and brick-and-mortar blending together? In today’s retail environment, what do you see as the most effective avenues for marketing to consumers?
The internet will continue to be the primary sales driver for the outdoor industry. However, lines are blurring; is “buy online, pick up in store” a store purchase or an internet one? We are seeing more stores serving as warehouses for internet sales. At some point, we may no longer be making the distinction, but e-commerce will remain the dominant growth story. Digital remains the easiest and most cost-effective way for brands and retailers to tell their stories. The platforms may change, but the web will remain the best marketing tool.
How can small specialty retailers successfully compete with the bigger players? Is there an advantage to building a local presence, or must they set their sights on geographically broader markets?
Hyper-local is a key differentiator between the smaller and bigger players in the market. Specialty retailers must be immersed in the community they serve, but broaden their consumer reach within these communities. Specialty retail has a reputation for focusing on the pinnacle user, but there is also opportunity among the everyday user. In addition, specialty retail must have an internet presence, even if it means using a third-party provider.
Black Friday sets a mood for the consumer and is an indication of things to come. But, while a good Black Friday makes us all feel holiday will do well, a poor one doesn’t mean poor growth performance for the holiday overall.
Whether they were in New York, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, or Texas, there were common themes that each of our industry advisors noticed as they hit the stores over this peak holiday shopping period. The biggest callout – Black Friday weekend has changed.
Click on the bars below to see the recaps, and follow #NPDHoliday on Twitter to see everything our advisors saw in their Black Friday travels.
The Industry Advisors
- Marshal Cohen
Chief Industry Advisor, Retail
- Stephen Baker
Vice President, Industry Advisor, Technology and Mobile
- Matt Powell
Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor, Sports
- Juli Lennett
Senior Vice President, Industry Advisor, Toys
- Joe Derochowski, Executive Director, Home, Appliances
- David Portalatin
Vice President, Industry Advisor, Food
Insights from the Experts
Chief Industry Advisor, Retail
This Black Friday was very telling – it had a lot to say.
The deals were plentiful, both in offerings and depth of product, but by day’s end, there was still product left, though not piled as high as at the start. The days of stampedes of shoppers fighting for too-good-to-be-true deals on limited quantity items seem to be gone. Instead, there were a fair number of shoppers queued up at store openings and seeking deals in a more orderly fashion.
Retailers were more prepared and organized than ever before which helped to create this sense of calm in a storm of deal hunting. Black Friday spread continued with some retailers, like Best Buy, starting their Black Friday promotions as early as November 1st. Online retailers, like Amazon, also got in the action well before Cyber Monday. Staggered opening times helped to eliminate some of the chaos, allowing the 20 percent of consumers who shopped Black Friday weekend to casually, and strategically, go from one store to another. New digital maps offered guidance to those items, and in-aisle checkouts made for a modern, speedy, and efficiently painless shopping process. Rather than relying on the element of surprise, retailers shared deals ahead of time, and offered larger quantities of door-buster product. Perhaps the biggest shift came from stores stepping up their online game, giving consumers more shopping alternatives.
The focus of the weekend has also changed. Shoppers and promotions were both focused more on self-gifting items like smart home and robotic vacuums than more personal gift items. Fewer shopping bags pointed to in-store shopping followed by mobile purchasing – avoiding the need to cash-and-carry, especially large items.
New trends emerging.
NPD’s Checkout data revealed that 2017’s peak holiday shopping occurred from noon to 4:00pm on Black Friday. Similar to last year, it was a slow start Thursday night, but by Friday at noon the malls were packed with shoppers. Last year, we saw surges on Thursday at 6:00pm, and on Saturday from noon to 2:00pm. Some of this year’s surges lasted longer, depending on where you were.
Thursday night went to Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. Once the peak hit on Friday, the malls were bustling and store traffic reached an all-time high at outlet centers across the east coast. In some cases, parking lots filled beyond capacity, and the sides of the highway became an alternate parking option. In the 20 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen it so packed.
Apple, Pandora, and Adidas were among the busiest stores. Athletic/active apparel inspired stores, and apparel chain stores with aggressive discounts fared well overall. Mall based mass merchants, like Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart had a great range of successes in electronics, small appliances, toys, and select apparel. Best Buy did great with efficient offerings, toys, and self-gifting consumers.
Positive signs, but still room for improvement.
All in all, this was a great Black Friday. Consumers came out in droves and retailers stepped up efforts around inventory and servicing. Consumers still seemed excited about last year’s product innovations, and pricing was not as high as many predicted. All of this sets a healthy tone and good momentum for the holiday season. But, retailers can still do a better job of using technology in stores to create the endless aisle. They have the opportunity to provide more innovation, in the product and how it is sold.
Black Friday was a huge success for retail this year, making it clear that stores are not dead. Rather, stores have entered a transformation that will strengthen their ability to compete. The biggest challenge will be to extend this excitement beyond the holiday shopping season.
Vice President, Industry Advisor, Technology and Mobile
There is so much more to holiday shopping for Tech than just Black Friday.
“It’s the end of the world (Black Friday) as we know it, and I feel fine.” With apologies to REM, I think this sums up this weekend nicely.
We have been rapidly moving towards this point over the last few years – in fact, check out my quote in a 2010 TWICE article. We are at a point where the focus on Black Friday is totally misplaced. Over the last 8 years the fastest growing week for the tech industry has been Cyber Week, which represented almost 16 percent of sales in 2017, up from 12 percent in 2010. Thanksgiving week is key as well, steadily representing about 22 percent of all sales over that same time period, despite the growth in Cyber Week volumes. Consumers really have, as I said eight years ago, adopted their shopping patterns over to the reality of today’s retail – they now seem to view the intersection of retail and online seamlessly. We observed that trend over this year’s holiday shopping weekend, with seemingly diminished crowds on Thanksgiving evening and on Black Friday morning, followed by rapidly mounting traffic as Friday wore on. These shopping patterns prove that consumers will shop in stores when the time and product is right, but will also take advantage of the many blessings afforded to them by at-home shopping at any time of day.
This holiday is likely to be a continuation of the strong momentum we have seen all year in the tech market. TVs, as they always do, will lead the way. But, once again, we would expect to see the most popular deals drive consumers into higher price-points and bigger screen sizes this year. The other segment to call out for 2018 is smart home, and not just the smart speaker giveaway fest sponsored by Google and Amazon, but the myriad of products and prices afforded on all the next level of Smart Home goods, from locks and doorbells to cameras and lighting. The rapid expansion of these products into adjacent channels – from mass merchants and discounters like Kohl’s, to sporting goods and hardware stores – helped to make smart home products the most widely available technology products this Thanksgiving week.
We remain enthusiastic about the holiday season for the tech industry, and believe our three percent revenue growth goal is not only reachable, but also likely to be exceeded.
Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor, Sports
Black Friday was a blend of bland and bold for Sports.
After what was the most promotional holiday ever in 2017, as expected, holiday 2018 looks like it will eclipse last year.
With no true hot item or look, and with major brand drivers in a soft patch, brands and retailer must promote to drive sales. The brands were particularly aggressive this year at the expense of their wholesale partners. On the retail side, Dick’s took the bold stance of 25 percent off the entire store.
Traffic was very weak to start off the day, as Black Friday creep moved sales to earlier in the month. Clearly the ease of shopping on the internet precluded consumers from having to get up early and stand in lines. Parking lots filled up later in the day, but it did not appear that many were actually buying. The longest line I saw was at Starbucks.
Many of the Black Friday shoe releases were uninspiring, with brands still trying to force performance footwear on an athleisure market. However, there were a couple of bright spots for the sport industry. Fashion outerwear and fashion cold weather boots seemed to be moving well, as they had been for the last eight weeks.
All in, a lackluster start to what will likely be a lackluster holiday for sports retail.
Senior Vice President, Industry Advisor, Toys
Black Friday is as much about options as it is about bargains.
I admit it. I do not like shopping and I especially don’t like shopping on Black Friday. I don’t like hunting for a parking spot, I don’t like crowds, and I hate waiting in line. Patience is not my virtue. This Black Friday was a bit different – it was my job to go shopping on Black Friday. I didn’t actually have to buy anything, just observe, so I wouldn’t be forced to wait in any long lines. Overall the experience wasn’t as bad as I anticipated and, in fact, I enjoyed most of it. And, if I was going to spend time stalking people so I could take their parking spot, and immerse myself in wall-to-wall people, then I was going to take advantage of some Black Friday deals.
The two things that really stuck out for me this year were the timing of the crowds and the shopper experience.
My experience was that the serious bargain hunters did their most important shopping (for themselves) when the stores opened on Thanksgiving. But after a few hours, those hunters had gone home—they had swooped in and swooped out. They knew exactly what they wanted. Another large group of shoppers seem to have shopped online to get their favorite deals but then took advantage of in-store pick-up on Black Friday—there were long lines for BOPUS. The rest of the shoppers casually drifted into stores throughout the day on Black Friday, but not too early, and continued shopping until the stores closed.
In terms of the shopper experience, I was very impressed with the effort from most of the retailers to create a positive in-store shopping experience. From providing apps with maps to find exactly what you were looking for, to providing plenty of courteous, helpful, and cheerful staff on the floor ready to service customers.
However, there are still two areas where retailers could improve. First, get buyers out the door more quickly with multiple checkout options—arm employees with devices to check-out shoppers in the section where they shop, or provide self-checkout. Buyers who thought the lines were too long abandoned their items, or even full carts, in the stores – not good for the retailer or consumer. Second, if the item is out of stock, make it easy for shoppers to buy the item while they are in the store and eager to make a purchase. If the answer the shopper gets is to “go online”, chances are the shopper will find a better price online and buy it from your competitor.
If we do this again next year, I’ll need a more comfortable pair of shoes.
Executive Director, Home, Appliances
The spirit of Black Friday has expanded.
I am preparing for the day when my kids ask “Is there really a Santa Claus?”, armed with the response that Christmas is “something bigger, it is about the spirit of the season”. Black Friday used to be a single day filled with early morning shopping frenzy and busy traffic all day where consumers were pining to purchase items at bargain prices. Similar to my impending Santa Claus question, today, Black Friday is about something bigger, it’s about bargain shopping spread over multiple days and shopping platforms.
The mad rush has moved from Friday morning to Thursday night, at least for those retailers who were open on Thursday. While store managers said that Friday was busier than last year, Store managers and employees all talked about how Thursday night was “crazy” – it was busier than Friday. There was an evident scramble on Friday to deal with the stock outs and refresh the look of the merchandise. On the other hand, similar to recent years, there were no lines early Friday morning – other than a few people looking for deals on TV’s. The shopping really looked like any other Friday, with huge traffic flows from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Many consumers said they started much of their shopping on Wednesday because they could access the Black Friday deals that early.
Retailers have also done a much better job of integrating online shopping with in-store. The online promotions are reflecting the same promotions seen in the circular and in the store. This makes for a more seamless consumer shopping experience, but does pose some operational challenges for store employees looking to maintain the parallels amidst the mad rush of shoppers.
The door-busting categories for the early shopper seem to be led by TV’s and computers. At Menards, the drivers were dog beds, quilts, and step ladders. The home categories that received the most promotion were the categories that have been hot all year – Instant Pot, air fryers, coffeemakers, cookware, Dyson stick vacuums, upright vacuums, iRobot and Ecovac robotic vacuums, and electric toothbrushes. I expect to see these categories leading the sales for this week.
The majority of consumers have mixed feelings, but those who are the true ‘treasure hunters’ do miss the Black Friday bustle of years past. While Black Friday, the day, is no more, in-store traffic showed that consumers embraced the spirit of the day on Friday and the days preceding. All indications are this should be a good Holiday season, with both consumers and retailers emerging as winners.
Vice President, Industry Advisor, Food
Black Friday is for leftovers
I’ve never paid much attention to Black Friday before. As NPD’s Food Industry Advisor, my focus has always been on the big meal. I look at the way grocery retailers and food manufacturers collaborate to provide convenient yet authentic meal solutions for the vast majority of American’s who either feasted at home or prepared a dish to take to someone else’s home on Thanksgiving day. As far as Black Friday dining goes – many of us are too stuffed, and gorging on leftovers, to eat out at a restaurant.
In fact, on any given day in America, 13 percent of our meals are sourced from a restaurant. On Black Friday, that number is 12.4 percent. In other words, for restaurants, Black Friday is much like any other day. Many observers who are rightly awed at the throngs amassing at retail storefronts reasonably assume that adjacent eateries and mall food courts must pick up some customer traffic. It’s a reasonable assumption, albeit an incorrect one. Long Black Friday lines at Starbucks, or a crowded independent full-service establishment, are likely to exist on any other day.
For Black Friday shoppers, the pursuit of the elusive deal and beating the crowd to the next door buster takes priority over stopping to eat. After all, there are leftovers aplenty waiting at home!
Now, Valentine’s day…..let’s talk restaurants then!
This is a snapshot of our advisors’ Black Friday 2018 observations across apparel, appliances, food consumption, foodservice, home, retail, sports, technology, and toys. Follow #NPDHoliday to see what they are observing throughout the holiday shopping season. For more in-depth perspectives across our other industries, visit our Holiday Insights page.
After what was a solid first half of 2018 for the U.S. team sports equipment market, sales slowed in the third quarter. This does not portend well for holiday season sales.
Baseball was one of the hottest stories to open the year, as new youth baseball bat regulations forced families to buy new bats for their children. Sales of composite bats grew by more than half in the first six months. In the third quarter, however, that demand fell off and baseball sales went flat. We can expect to give back those first half gains next year.
Golf was another strong story in the first half; however, sales for Q3 were essentially flat. This was fueled by a decline in golf club sales, and flat performance for golf balls. The excitement over new releases has worn off. Callaway and Titleist sales grew nicely for Q3, but most of the other brands did not.
Soccer equipment sales rose during the World Cup, but fell off again immediately after it ended. This has been a very typical pattern during World Cup years. Soccer sales grew in the mid-single digits for Q3. Again, the industry will return those gains next year.
Sales of basketballs and backboards slowed even further in Q3 than in the first half, with sales down in the low teens. Basketball participation continues to decline as do sales of performance basketball shoes.
Participation was also likely a factor in the weak football numbers; Q3 sales were down in the mid-single digits for football equipment.
Universal protective gear experienced low single-digit growth for the quarter. I believe retailers are missing a great opportunity to leverage parents’ concerns over injuries. Protective gear should be part of every sports equipment purchase.
In terms of how major brands fared in Q3, Wilson equipment sales declined in the low singles. Spalding sales were down in the mid-teens on account of the weak basketball results. Nike equipment declined in the mid-teens and Under Armour in the high teens, while Adidas grew by more than 20 percent. Adidas showed particular strength in soccer, due to the World Cup. Rawlings and Franklin both grew by about 10 percent, and Shock Doctor improved in the low singles.
These mixed results signal a challenged fourth quarter. Brands and retailers must be creative to capture some wins for Holiday 2018.
Sneakernomics: Holiday 2018 Predictions for Sports Retail
This holiday season will see some challenges for the overall U.S. sports retail environment. But, there are still some bright spots that I anticipate will be areas of growth for the market this season.
Starting with the not-so-great news, athletic footwear sales in the U.S. were down for August and September compared to these same months last year. At the moment, I see no catalyst to drive overall sales back into the positive column for holiday. Performance footwear continues to struggle, now into its fourth year, and I do not expect this to change during the holiday period. Brands continue to push performance shoes on consumers who have clearly said they are not interested. The sport leisure category was soft in September, on account of a sales decline for sport lifestyle footwear; gains in the running inspired and casual athletic segments could not quite offset the decline in basketball inspired products.
Adidas sales went negative for September and I anticipate this will remain so for the balance of the year. Nike, Brand Jordan, and Converse sales were down for the month as well. Without growth from these major brands, the athletic footwear market cannot grow.
The top-selling shoe for the last two years, Nike Tanjun, also posted a decline for September. At this point, I do not believe there is a replacement for this shoe and the industry is lacking a hot item that can lift it. This void will put pressure on the entire market.
On the other hand, there are some bright spots for the athletic footwear industry, one of which has been the success of smaller brands. Vans, Puma, Reebok, Fila, and Brooks are all outperforming the market. Small is the new big, and I expect these brands will be popular and perform well this holiday. Another bright spot is the women’s business. As the industry has vastly underserved women, the women’s footwear market remains our greatest failure, but it is also our greatest opportunity.
In terms of activewear, or athletic apparel, sales were up slightly for Q3 and flat for August and September. I expect we will see a similar outcome for the holiday period.
Cold weather products sold well in Q3 as the inventories are very clean and fresh. However, the long range weather forecast is for a period of warm and dry weather, which will hold back any real gains for the category during Q4.
Just as in athletic footwear, smaller brands are succeeding in the activewear market. These are the ones we should look out for this season.
I expect the sports marketplace across both footwear and apparel to remain very promotional for Holiday 2018, as it has been for most of 2018 and last holiday season. If brands and retailers want to win with consumers this holiday, they must be careful to not sacrifice quality. Now more than ever, the sports industry needs a hot item.
Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service
The U.S. athletic footwear industry grew its dollar sales a healthy 4 percent in the third quarter of 2018, which I am pleased to report was better than I had anticipated. The sport lifestyle segment contributed the most dollars gained, while performance footwear continued to struggle.
Women’s athletic footwear outperformed the rest of the market, with sales up in the high single-digits, and this was driven by stellar Vans sales. Men’s sales grew in the low single-digits, as the performance categories were all soft, while kids’ sales were up slightly for the quarter.
The athletic specialty/sporting goods channel experienced a low single-digit gain, but was dramatically outpaced by the other channels. Premium department stores grew in the high singles, while mid-tier department stores improved in the mid-single digits. Shoe chains grew in the mid-single digits as well.
In terms of categories, performance footwear continued its negative trend, which has now entered its fourth year. With declines seen in key segments including basketball, training, running, and hiking, there is no evidence that performance-as-fashion will make a comeback any time soon.
Sport lifestyle, the largest athletic footwear category, grew its sales by 8 percent. Cold/all weather boots had a solid beginning to the fall/winter season, with sales up 16 percent, driven by brands including Koolaburra, UGG, and Sorel. Skate shoe sales increased by 45 percent, driven by Vans, and sports slides were up 12 percent.
Looking at brand highlights, Nike, Adidas, and Skechers grew their sales for the quarter, as did Brooks, Vans, and Timberland. Nike, Inc. sales were flat on account of declines from Brand Jordan and Converse, and Under Armour also experienced a decline. The Q3 top-selling athletic footwear styles, based on dollar sales were: Nike Tanjun, Nike Air Max 270, Converse Chuck Taylor Low, Vans Ward, Nike Revolution 4, Nike Air Huarache, Nike Flex Contact, Jordan X, Adidas NMD R1, and Nike Flex Experience RN 7.
September, in particular, showed some surprises, especially as we step into the holiday season. With September sales decelerating for big brands including Nike, Adidas, and Skechers, I expect this will pose some weakness to holiday sales for the athletic footwear industry. In addition, the top-selling shoe for the last two years, Nike Tanjun, saw a sales decline in September, with no replacement in sight. Vans’ growth, while still robust, slowed in the last month. Echoing my sentiment that ‘small is the new big,’ I expect this theme to continue to hold true during the holiday season, which I believe will be an interesting one this year.
As I expected, activewear sales were up slightly for Q3. Weather was a factor as the warm and dry conditions slowed cold weather gains. This early trend does not bode well for holiday, as brands are already being quite promotional.
Contrary to footwear, women’s activewear sales were quite soft, while men’s and kids showed solid growth.
Looking at channel performance, both premium and mid-tier department stores saw mid-single digit growth, and athletic specialty/sporting goods had a low single-digit decline.
One encouraging note was the early strength in outerwear, driven by retro track jackets and wind shirts. Cold weather outerwear categories are clean and fresh, which provided a nice lift to the market. Other segments that grew were sweatshirts, also fueled by the retro trend, and active bottoms. Sports bras declined in the mid-single digits, as the verticals took share from the core brands. Socks and swimwear were both negative as well.
In terms of brands, “Private Label” was the largest brand and one of the fastest growing. Both Adidas and Nike grew, largely on the retro trend, as did Patagonia, The North Face, Columbia, and PrAna. Under Armour, which has no retro product, experienced a sales decline. In addition, Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Champion saw growth as well.
There are plenty of examples of people talking at length about how today’s young consumer demands that brands take visible stands on social issues. Renowned author Simon Sinek said it best: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
But how does a brand decide which causes to support and what position to take? I believe that brands (and retailers) must look inside themselves and discover what their purpose is; they need to answer the “why they do it” question.
There is a relatively new movement afoot called “purpose-driven brands,” when brands and retailers connect their purpose with the purpose of their consumers. A purpose-driven brand consciously conducts its business according to its purpose.
Customers want to know what a brand stands for and what motivates their decisions. Consumers want brands to align with their values.
Of all the industries that adopted this common sense approach to marketing, the Sports and Recreation industry was arguably one of the first to target the purpose-driven consumer.
So many examples come to mind. Some companies appeal to a larger consumer market simply by focusing on their core customer; Carhartt’s hardworking apparel for hardworking men and women, and Yeti’s outdoor coolers for serious outdoor enthusiasts come to mind. Other companies market themselves as environmentally-friendly, charitable, or take an all-encompassing approach. Patagonia has been a purpose-driven company since the beginning; its stated mission: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Merrell has two sections on its website pertaining to purpose. One is “What Matters Most,” and the other is, “Causes We Support.”
VF Corporation (owners of Vans, The North Face, and Timberland) positions itself as a “Purpose-led, performance-driven and value-creating organization,” striving to “improve people’s lives and make the world a better place.” From its corporate website: “We don’t just make the world’s best apparel and footwear; we power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet. This is our Purpose. It’s why we come to work every day.”
These types of purpose statements inform every company’s decision and initiative. Consumers have a clear view of what drives these brands.
Once a brand or retailer has created their purpose, they then need to communicate that purpose clearly and consistently both inside and outside the company. And, more importantly, they need to act on these principles every day. Brands can use their purpose in marketing to communicate to the public. A brand’s purpose builds a relationship with the community.
Brands and retailers must look beyond their basic functions to discover their true purpose – they should look inside to discover “The right thing to do.” The products that are made and sold must reflect the purpose of the company. In short, brands must walk the walk. It’s not enough to just say that a brand supports a cause; every company action must reflect their purpose.
Consumers’ purchases will continue to be driven by their values. Successful purpose-driven brands will reflect and act on those values.
The Millennial and Gen Z consumers have been quite clear. They want to know where their brands and retailers stand on important social issues, and are willing to take their business elsewhere if those positions do not align with their own.
One of the most important causes for today’s younger generations is stopping climate change through sustainable consumption. A recent NPD study found that young U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. But are sports brands doing enough here?
The outdoor industry has always been at the forefront of protecting and preserving the environment. But, I think the outdoor industry has taken this position for granted. I believe the industry needs to tell the consumer all the things they do on a daily basis to end climate change, as well as the work that must continue.
I believe one of the many reasons for Patagonia’s current success is the very vocal and powerful stand they have taken on environmental issues. Other brands in the space can follow this lead. The stories are there. We just need to do a better job of telling those stories.
One area where the outdoor industry has fallen short is in diversity and inclusiveness. Outdoor brands and retailers are leaving business on the table by underserving minority groups and the everyday consumer. A big part of the current industry malaise is this inability to move away from only addressing the core.
The athletic side of the sports business has quietly been doing very good work on sustainability, but they have been far too quiet.
Brands have focused on new manufacturing techniques that create less waste and use less harmful bonding materials. Adidas’s Parley collection, which uses recycled plastic ocean waste, is a great example of the kind of work that is being done. But as we saw in the outdoor industry, brands are not telling the story well enough. Athletic retailers have virtually been left out of the conversation.
Diversity remains another opportunity for the athletic industry. All workers in the sports industry product chain must be paid a fair wage and work in safe conditions. Doing something this obvious will result in a significant upside for manufacturers and retailers that honor the quality of the work environment for female employees.
Much good work has been done in the sports retail business, but there is so much more to do. And as an industry, we can do a better job of telling these stories.
Back-to-School 2018 is a little more than half over and the results thus far, as I anticipated, have been rather disappointing. Looking at weekly sales data from June 3 through July 28, 2018 compared to the same period a year ago, athletic footwear dollar sales in the U.S. were essentially flat.
The sport lifestyle category has slowed given some weakness in retro basketball, but sales nonetheless grew in the mid-single digits.
The performance shoe categories all continued to struggle. Performance running (even with all the new initiatives) was down in the mid-single digits. Performance basketball sales declined as did training and hiking footwear. There does not appear to be a turn for ‘performance as fashion’ in the near term.
Sport slides have been a popular seller and were up in the low teens. Skate shoes grew by nearly half, driven by robust demand for Vans. What I have expected to be a hot brand this back-to-school season, Vans overall sales grew by more than three quarters during these weeks. NPD’s Checkout, a receipt mining service, has uncovered some interesting findings around the brand. In the last 12 months, the size of Vans’ in-store customer base has held relatively steady versus last year, but their customers are making more purchases; the proportion of in-store Vans buyers who have purchased two or more pairs has increased by almost 20 percent versus a year ago.
Looking at other brand highlights, Nike brand grew in the low single digits, though it was not enough to offset Nike Inc. declines. Adidas’s mid-teens gains were well off its previous torrid pace, though the brand continues to take share in the U.S. Brooks improved by a third. Skechers athletic shoes posted a slight decline, while ASICS saw sales fall in the high teens. Timberland and Columbia grew in sales, while Merrell and Keen declined.
Fila and Puma both had nice increases for the period. “Small as the new big” is an important theme for Back-to-School 2018.
Given these results, I expect this back-to-school season to be as promotional as last year, if not more so, putting pressure on margins. I also expect e-commerce to outpace sales growth in physical stores, as online becomes more and more important to the total.
Looking ahead, I expect these modest results to continue for the balance of the year. Whatever energy we see in athletic footwear will come from the smaller brands.
Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, 8 weeks ending July 28, 2018
The second quarter of 2018 (April-June) was not great for the U.S. team sports equipment industry, compared to the same three months in 2017. Sales were essentially flat for the quarter, as the new baseball bat regulations that drove baseball sales growth in Q1 had pretty much played out. Baseball sales in Q2 actually declined in the low single-digits. The gains it experienced during Q1 will be difficult to offset next year.
Though a slowdown of sales growth compared to the low teens increase during Q1, golf equipment still performed well, as more Boomers retire every day, with sales up in the mid-singles. Golf club sales grew in the mid-singles, indicating new entrants, while ball sales only grew in the high singles, likely dampened by the decline in golf rounds played in April and June.
April posted the coldest temperatures in two decades, which put a damper on spring sports.
Soccer equipment sales improved due to interest in the World Cup. Historically, these sales trends do not carry forward.
Q2 basketball equipment sales declined in the mid-teens, in line with the weak basketball shoe sales trend.
Looking at team sports equipment brands, Callaway grew by a quarter, taking share from those who have exited the golf business. TaylorMade sales were flat, and Titleist grew in the high teens.
Rawlings grew in the high teens and Easton posted a decline, as did Spalding and Wilson. Nike equipment declined by more than a third, while Adidas improved by about 25 percent.
With reported participation rates continuing to fall, we can expect no real growth in team equipment for the balance of 2018.
Two events happened recently that highlight the dilemma that sports markets face.
Last week, LeBron James emerged from the “Decision Cave” and announced that he was taking his talents to LA. Then, Roger Federer agreed to be paid $30 million per year for 10 years to endorse Japanese retailer Uniqlo.
Many have assumed that LeBron’s change would somehow benefit sales, but in my opinion this is not the case. Yes, a lot of Lakers “number 23” jerseys will be sold, but there are thousands and thousands of Cleveland 23’s still left in inventory. These jerseys started at 50 percent off two weeks ago. Today, they are merely historic artifacts that could take years to clear.
I do not expect to see a big lift in basketball shoe sales either. When Kobe Bryant was at the height of his game, he had the top-selling jersey in the NBA, but he never sold a lot of shoes in the U.S. Los Angeles is more of a flip-flop market than basketball shoe market. Given the lead times in the sneaker industry, it will take many months to have LeBron shoes in Laker colors. And even then, there will be little appetite; performance basketball shoes remain solidly out of fashion in the U.S.
As a side note, it is important to point out that Kobe’s shoes sold in much greater quantities in China than they did in the U.S. However, LeBron has never been that popular a player in China. If U.S. basketball goes out of fashion with Chinese consumers who follow the sport, brands will surely struggle in China.
Turning to tennis, Federer played his first match at Wimbledon in Uniqlo apparel. It was announced that he would be paid for 10 years, regardless of whether he played tennis or not.
Tennis players earn amazing endorsement deals even as participation has stagnated. Their appeal is more to the ultra-wealthy than it is to the average consumer. Teen consumers are not even in the picture.
I’m in London as I write this, surrounded by fans of Fedo. Some might be interested in what he wears or which liquor he drinks, but none of these folks appear to have set foot in a mall, let alone a fast fashion retailer.
What we are realizing is that the paid endorser model is simply broken. Fans know that athletes and celebrities are paid to wear products, and only wear them because they are paid. Celebrities’ relationships with brands are based on compensation, and not on any true emotional attachments.
Consumers have begun to realize how phony these pay-to-wear deals are. Celebrities have not loyalty to brands, or fans. They simply will endorse whatever they are paid to wear.
The sports industry needs to return to the days of authentic and honest endorsement, where the relationship is guided by passion and emotion, not by big paychecks.