Sports Market Research & Business Solutions

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 available today. 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.

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 (apparel, footwear, equipment, and accessories), 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.

Interested in becoming a retail partner? Learn more now

Learn more about our industry expertise


Retail Tracking

The NPD Group has the largest POS footprint in the industry. NPD collects weekly and monthly sales data from over 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.

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.

Consumer Tracking

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.

Geo-Level Information

Assess regional strengths and opportunities, monitor competitive performance by region, 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 Tracking℠

Checkout Tracking℠ uses a new approach called “receipt harvesting” to help you understand and address shifting consumer tastes and changing retail dynamics. It can give you a winning advantage – access to the most detailed information about what’s in consumers’ market baskets, based actual receipts from both online and brick-and-mortar retail purchases. Its data covers purchases at the category, brand, and item levels, so you can analyze competitive shopping carts and identify purchasing patterns. Plus, you get precise purchase and demographic details linked to individual footwear buyers.


You have opportunities. You face threats. What you need are smart, quantifiable methods of distinguishing one from the other and maximizing your chances of success. NPD’s Analytic Solutions Group includes a team of senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that address strategic marketing, sales, and planning issues.

We combine NPD POS and consumer information, industry expertise, and custom survey research – then add state-of-the-discipline research techniques and methodologies to explain the "why behind the buy.” Through advanced modeling and analytic services, we offer insight into what will happen in the future, not just what has happened in the past, answering your most pressing business questions:

See how clients have used our analytic solutions to solve their business challenges in our Analytic Solutions Case Study Library.


Get To Know Outdoorsmen

New consumer segmentation — the only source for insight about attitudes, behaviors of consumers who buy outdoor apparel and footwear

Get To Know Core Athletes

New consumer segmentation — the only source for insight about attitudes, behaviors of consumers who buy fitness/athletic and outdoor apparel and footwear

Footwear Brand Focus Report

How can you move up the ranks when it comes to consumers’ favorite fashion footwear brands? In both women’s and men’s, word of mouth and recommendations are major influencers on consumer purchase decisions. Our Footwear Brand Focus Report shines a light on brand awareness, ownership, perceptions, purchase intent, affinity, consumer profiles, and more.

Leisure Trends and The NPD Group — Together

Building the best-ever view of the global sports and recreation marketplace

Skiing and Skiwear

Sales performance, pricing, and brand insights for skiwear in France and Germany

Press Releases

August 19, 2016

The NPD Group Finds Art of Matching the Right Athletes With the Right Brands a Challenge for Marketers

Choosing Olympic athletes for endorsement deals depends on more than just aligning with the right product category; the athlete’s fan base and the brands they use are equally critical to a successful partnership between brands and athletes, according to global information company, The NPD Group.

July 31, 2016

Bluetooth Capable Headphone Sales Surpass Non-Bluetooth Sales

According to The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service, Bluetooth headphone revenue overtook non-Bluetooth for the first time in June accounting for 54 percent of headphone dollar sales and 17 percent of unit sales in the U.S.

July 26, 2016

As More U.S. Consumers Take Road Trips this Summer, Sales of Camping-Related Products Increase, NPD Group Reports

More Americans are hitting the road this summer, and as they prepare for their family vacations and outdoor adventures, sales of outdoor and camping-related products within the $19 billion industry are on the rise, according to global information company The NPD Group.

May 31, 2016

The NPD Group Expands Sports Retail Tracking Service to Offer the Broadest View of U.S. Cycling Marketplace

Global information company The NPD Group today announced that it has expanded its Retail Tracking Service to provide the most comprehensive view of the $6.4 billion U.S. cycling market.

April 28, 2016

As Warmer Weather Approaches, Recreation Kayak Sales See Double-Digit Growth, Driven By Fishing Kayaks, NPD Reports

As water sport season draws near, sales of recreation kayaks were up 21 percent, or over $42 million, and 18 percent in unit sales in the 12 months ending February 2016, according to global information company The NPD Group. Looking at the top items that make up this increase, the vast majority of those items are fishing kayaks.

April 5, 2016

The NPD Group Reports On Consumer Viewing Habits of eSports And Streaming Gameplay

According to eSports and Streaming Gameplay, the latest report from global information provider, The NPD Group, 44 percent of current gamers have watched either formal eSports competitions or informal video streaming of gameplay in the past six months.

March 7, 2016

Warmer Weather and Interest in the Outdoors Spurs Growth in Camping Equipment Sales

The fall and winter months are more commonly associated with warm coats than camping tents, but with 2015 being the second warmest year on record in the U.S. (behind 2012), annual outerwear sales were flat and camping-related equipment helped to grow the outdoor industry in 2015, according to global information company The NPD Group.


October 18, 2016

The Power of Athletic and Outdoor Consumer Segmentation

In the U.S., we’re seeing a movement that’s about the purity of foods, rather than the absence or presence of particular nutrients or attributes. For example, people are seeking out minimally processed items and expecting labels to highlight recognizable, natural ingredients.

October 10, 2016

How We Predicted Sales for the Under Armour Curry 2 Low Basketball Shoe

Want to make killer products people love? If so, you need to distinguish the winning ideas from the losers, move fast to keep ahead of trends, and prepare yourself for the possibility of a hot category’s decline. 

That’s where new product forecasting comes in. 

By examining cultural context, looking at historical market trends by category and segment, and building a forecast model with survey research, we can assess the appeal and estimated sales potential of competing products. 

Recently, we uncovered consumer opinions about four hot basketball shoes

See how we did it, and what we found.

October 4, 2016

Understanding NFL Fans

Get a better understanding of a team's nation-wide fan base, the number of displaced fans, fan demographics, brand preferences of fans, purchase volume of fans, and more.

July 28, 2016

Here Comes Gen Z

Discover how Generation Z is set to shake up the sports and outdoor retail markets in this video featuring industry analyst, Matt Powell.

July 18, 2016

The Importance of Gender in the Sports Industry

Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell weighs in on the importance of gender in the sports space. Learn how the development of products geared specifically to women will impact the marketplace.

July 5, 2016

Millennials and the Sports Industry

In this new video series, NPD Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell discusses Millennials' impact on sports industry trends. See how Gen Y behavior is changing the golf, cycling, and camping industries, and what it means for your business.

March 17, 2016

Connecting with Generation Z

February 26, 2016

The Future of the Sports Business in the U.S (Video)

February 25, 2016

2015 Run Specialty Year-End Review (Webinar)

January 1, 2016

The New Outdoors (Video)

Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts

June 6, 2016

What’s Really Happening In The U.S. Sneaker Business

According to NPD, which represents the most comprehensive roster of reporting retailers, comprising more than 50 percent of the U.S. retail athletic shoe market, sales of athletic footwear in the U.S. for the first third of the year (January-April 2016) were solid. Both dollar and unit sales grew in the low single-digits with average selling price up slightly, mostly on mix.

So far, the bankruptcies in the industry have had little impact on sales, but that could change over the next 90 days. I expect these “going out of business” sales to have a minimal impact on the industry. The greatest impact will likely come early, when the assortments are best. Channel checks revealed obsolete and broken inventories in the stores slated to close.

The big driver of growth for the year so far remained the classics category, with sales growing more than 25 percent. The largest branch of the classics is retro basketball, driven by Brand Jordan. Retro tennis has had the greatest percentage growth, paced by the Adidas Stan Smith franchise. Retro running has also had a healthy increase. Virtually every major brand in retro running is showing strong increases. I expect the retro trend to last for some time to come.

Weakness in performance basketball has been cited by several retailers over the last few quarters.  Performance basketball was one of the few categories that saw a decline in average selling price for the year so far (declines in average selling price often accompany a soft business). Of the major brands, only Under Armour has shown growth here. I expect the declines to moderate as we come against easier comparisons in the second half, but I do expect basketball will remain challenged.

Running is the largest of the athletic footwear categories, but remains bifurcated. Total running sales are up in the low-singles; however, performance running (80 percent of the category) is down in the high-singles, while lifestyle running grew more than 40 percent for the year so far. Most of the major brands in performance running have struggled, with Adidas being a standout exception. We can expect lifestyle running to continue to expand.

Casual athletic grew in the mid-single digits, mostly on robust growth from the Adidas Neo collection.  Converse Casual has also been strong. We clearly are in a major non-performance cycle right now. I expect the short term will remain challenging for the performance-focused brands. Brands that have a diverse portfolio of products should be thriving.

Sport slides are back in fashion, no doubt driven by the retro trend. Sales for the year grew about 10 percent. Nike is a big winner here. We can expect this trend to continue and should be on the lookout for new emerging brands in this space.

Outdoor sandals did not fare as well, likely due to the wet spring. Chaco, Skechers, and Teva all had nice increases, counter to the overall market trend.

Walking continued to decline after several years of good growth. Skechers struggled here. Hiking had a low single-digit increase. This category was hot in 2015, but again was suppressed by the wet spring. Columbia and Nike outperformed in hiking.

Men’s and women’s both had low single-digit increases for the year so far. Men’s was hurt by poor basketball results. Women’s was weakest in walking. Kids grew in the high single-digits for the year so far. It is important to remember that a significant driver of the kids business is teen girls buying “boys’” shoes.

By channel for the year so far in athletic footwear, shoe chains led the pack with sales up in the mid-single digits. Athletic specialty/sporting goods rode out the negative basketball trend with a low single-digit increase, and average selling prices increased overall. Department stores and national chains both had low single-digit declines. Running specialty stores declined in the mid-single digits.

Looking at positive brand growth year to date, Nike/Brand Jordan and Converse performed well, but it’s Adidas and Under Armour, with sales up more than 40 percent and 70 percent, respectively, that stand out. Adidas is having a fabulous year, now reclaiming #2 share in the U.S. sneaker market. Asics and Brooks sales declined in the low teens, as robust retro growth could not offset weakness in performance. Saucony sales grew in the mid-single digits. Puma is clearly riding the retro trend with sales up about a third. Vans sales grew in the low teens.

The second quarter has typically never been that important for the sneaker business. I expect sales to be a little choppy early on, as the bankruptcies will be most disruptive then. By the time back-to-school arrives, the bankrupt stores will be out of good shoes. The negative basketball trend will have abated and the Olympics will give a lift to the business. I expect sneaker sales in the second half to bounce back to previous levels. With 10 percent of the sporting goods retail space closing by Labor Day, the remaining market will be stronger and healthier.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Monthly Retail Tracking Service, January-April 2016
Data is collected from the athletic specialty, sporting goods, chain store, department store, and other channels. Athletic footwear includes the following categories: Sport Leisure, Outdoor, Performance, and Work/Occupational/Safety.

May 13, 2016

We The North: Basketball Fever Sweeps Across Canada

Have you sent a text today? Of course! Chances are you’ve sent more texts than you have received calls. However, looking back to the last time the Toronto Raptors were in the second round of the NBA playoffs in 2001, texting wasn’t necessarily a viable form of communication. Don’t get me wrong, you could text, but the process was extremely involved and convoluted. Typing a single letter required the user to mindlessly poke at his or her key pad several times. Don’t even get me started on how frustrating the process of correcting a spelling mistake on a mobile phone was! Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that just as technology has evolved a lot over the last 15 years in Canada, so too has basketball. In the late 90’s The Toronto Raptors began to attract a new consumer; in many cases a younger fan who was getting his or her first taste of Basketball. 15 years later and these millennial consumers have developed into die hard Raptors supporters; they are now the ones driving the market and controlling nearly two-thirds of the spend in terms of basketball related merchandise and athletic apparel. And while the Toronto Raptors first broke into the league in 1995, it wasn’t until 2012 that the city collectively began to support the team.

Since then, “WE THE NORTH” has become a collective rallying cry that unites an entire country behind its sole NBA franchise. The success of The Raps has truly propelled basketball in Canada and led to a whole new breed of NBA fans north of the border. Recently, Canadians have also been dominating on the court. In 2013, Toronto born Anthony Bennett was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then in 2014, Andrew Wiggins, another Canadian born player, was selected first over all once again by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Toronto’s own Drake was also recently given the role of “Raptors Global Ambassador”, after his tireless support of the city and the team.

Yes, it seems that basketball in Canada has finally caught on with the masses – albeit over 20 years after the country got its first and only NBA team. All of these events have helped to drive awareness and attention for the sport. And as basketball has grown in popularity with Canadian fans, so too has the amount of money that fans are willing to spend on b-ball related purchases.

Basketball shoes have grown from an $84M industry per year in 2013 to $147M in February 2016, +20% CAGR. Of course this pace can’t be kept up as we have seen the growth slow to +7% in the past year but that still outpaces the Athletic footwear market as a whole. All of this growth and all of this attention isn’t just driving the sport; it is really driving the fashion of the sport.

The largest factor influencing these purchases is the look. A third of purchases are influenced by the look/colour/matching of an outfit, etc. On the other hand, consumers tend to be influenced by Athlete endorsements only 6% of the time. Will the market continue to move higher? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for sure, if the Raptors can continue to keep winning deep into the post-season, it’s quite possible that basketball related shoe and apparel sales will continue to grow exponentially in Canada.

April 21, 2016

Ads On NBA Jerseys Coming Soon

As far back as 2009, the NBA hinted that it would follow in the footsteps of other international professional leagues and display advertisements on players’ jerseys. We saw a touch of this during the 2016 All-Star Game in February, when uniforms were sporting the KIA logo.

Last Friday, as I predicted back in June 2014, the NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of ads on jerseys beginning in the 2017-2018 season, as part of a three-year trial. I’m firmly convinced that the NBA experiment with sleeved jerseys was designed to create more room for such ads.

Leagues are always looking for new revenue streams, and ads on jerseys is a strategic move which will bring in millions of dollars each year.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways. We’re always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace, and we are excited to see the results of this three-year trial.”

Silver is correct that jersey sponsorships will foster a new bond between players and their fans, who want to not only support, but also dress like their heroes. It’s also important to recognize that a uniform is not simply a fashion item, but ultimately it directly correlates to performance. The changes that are happening will not only influence the sport and brand mindset of fans and viewers, but take the game to another level.

It’s only a matter of time before NBA players will become walking billboards. I fully expect that NBA team jerseys will be updated every season, to keep up with changing ad campaigns and corporate sponsors – and to encourage fans to buy the latest one.

April 4, 2016

What’s Going On With Golf?

Athletes today are viewed not only as heroes on the field, but as cultural and fashion icons to the American people. We live in a culture where they are revered more than just feet on the playing field, and where their style of dress, brand endorsements, and even political opinions can influence consumer behavior. The monetary weight that they carry is not too shabby either. The world’s 100 highest-paid athletes, according to Forbes’ list, earned over $3 billion in total from June 2014 through June 2015. With the amount of money that is invested into these athletes each year, they must be doing something right for the brands and sports they represent.

It may come as a surprise that a number of pro golfers made the list, including Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and 26-year-old Rory McIlroy. While this is beneficial to golf’s image, the sport is not on par with the up-and-coming consumers it desperately needs to attract: Millennials and Gen Z.

According to the National Golf Foundation, more people are trying out the game for the first time; however, overall golf participation is declining, with numbers more in line with the pre-Tiger Woods figure we saw in 1995.

The golf culture does not identify with Millennials, who have an affinity for outdoor activities and shared experiences such as camping, climbing, and backpacking; nor does the sport distinguish itself among the Gen Z’s, who like team sports as well as activities that mirror the Millennials. Golf as we know it is quite the opposite of what these generations seek, and contradicts a number of their core values:

1) The game is slow and, for generations who are used to everything being a click away, it’s far from being instantly gratifying.

2) It’s expensive and, for generations that need to be spending conscious, the cost to play and purchase/rent the necessary apparel and equipment is not of value to them.

3) Golf is exclusive, and for generations who want to be inclusive, paying to have the privilege of an exclusive membership is not of interest.

4) Its rules are too complex, which is unappealing to these generations who want a minimal amount of rules.

5) There is a lack of diversity in golf, as the CEO of the PGA of America said himself, in contrast to the Millennials, who are the most diverse generation ever and have embraced diversity like no other generation.

We’re seeing Millennials like Rory McIlroy engage and succeed in golf, but this type of testimonial alone is not enough to breathe new life into the sport. The key to winning as a sports brand today is to make fashionable products, particularly footwear and streetwear, for the Millennial and Gen Z generations. Though applying this to golf is a challenging task, golf brands and retailers need to keep this trend top of mind when figuring out how to boost participation for their sport.

April 1, 2016

Winning Women Over Through Sports Marketing

The athletic and outdoor industries have traditionally been “guy” industries, illustrated by the fact that most of the executive boards and management teams of major companies in this space fall short when it comes to gender diversity.

Historically, most athletic brands have used the strategy of “shrink it and pink it” to develop women’s products. But tailoring a man’s shoe to a woman’s foot is not the solution. Girls are made differently than boys; a man’s foot is more rectangular in shape, while a woman’s is more triangular and narrower at the heel than the forefoot. Simply making smaller men’s shoes results in ill-fitting women’s shoes, and we all know that fit is very important to consumers – not only in footwear, but apparel as well.

To determine what they must do, brands and retailers must first understand the female consumer.

  • Women are females first and customers second. Brands need to develop women-specific products in order to grow this important segment of the athletic and outdoor markets.
  • Women are often the problem solvers in their relationships. If your product can make her life better, easier, cheaper and faster, that goes a long way. Versatile, multi-functional products are a real plus.
  • Sweat the details; she will notice. Spend time making your product the best it can be for the price. Little details can make the difference between a product she buys and one she loves.
  • Female consumers are very willing to connect with brands and retailers via social media. At the same time, they are sharing everything with their friends. For decades, retailers and brands have been telling us how and what to buy, but the shift to social shopping will see female customers “selling” to each other.

Next brands and retailers can move into what they need to do.

  • They need to celebrate femininity. Many women embrace their femininity and have taken to the broader concept of “lifestyle.” Her shoes and apparel have to function, be comfortable, be versatile, and be cute.
  • They must be loyal to women. Loyalty in this case means consistency in design, direction, and product performance. Female shoppers want to understand and follow the evolution of the brand, but they also demand consistency in both how the product looks and how it performs.
  • Show her how to wear it. Products that are fully accessorized at retail are a huge plus. Helping women put an entire outfit together is another great way to be loyal.
  • If you build a brand relationship with a female shopper, she becomes a brand ambassador. If she trusts your brand, she will tell her friends and family about it. Strong brands must deepen and nurture that relationship. The minute you take her for granted, you’ve lost her.
  • Women, especially Millennials, want brands that share their values. Brands and retailers must express their vision and mission in clear and concise terms, and open a dialogue with their customers about these values.

There’s a gap in the industry, which I see as an opportunity for brands to step in and better understand and speak to women’s retail needs. During a time when gender lines are blurring and products are being marketed to accommodate everyone across the gender spectrum, this is as good a time as any to develop new ways to sell and create products.

March 16, 2016

Let The Madness Begin

College basketball fans around the country are rejoicing; NCAA March Madness 2016 has begun. In addition to being one of the biggest U.S. sporting events of the year behind the Super Bowl, March Madness is also one of the prime opportunities for the athletic footwear industry.

Much of the opportunity has to do with marketing. Signing college teams is more of a marketing ploy than a direct sales story. These contracts can be worth several hundred million dollars. The contracts can include footwear, uniforms, other apparel, and direct payments to coaches.

Nike once again dominates the court as this year’s tournament begins, having shoe contracts with 44 of the 68 teams and providing uniforms for 41 of those teams (the three other teams will wear Russell uniforms). Both Under Armour and Adidas will have a greater presence at the tournament compared to last year; Under Armor is providing uniforms for 10 teams, up from six last year, and Adidas for 14, up from 11 last year.

Here are the most important times of the year for basketball shoe sales, and March Madness makes the list.

Sneaker sales peak during Christmastime, and some of the biggest weeks of the year for basketball shoes are around this holiday. With the advent of gift cards, these weeks have become even larger in relation to other weeks of the year. Brands often schedule releases to take advantage of this natural buying time. Typically, the largest Jordan retro release of the year occurs around Christmas.

The NBA All Star game has become another very important sales period for basketball shoes. As the game is showcased for the skills of some of the best players in the game, it’s a logical time for brands to showcase some of their best products as well.

Black Friday is another key sales period for basketball shoes. While many retailers have turned the Thanksgiving holiday shopping period from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, for the most part, sneaker brands have held their releases until the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Back-to-school is another important season. Today, kids often wait for school to start to see what other kids are wearing before beginning their back-to-school shopping, which moves the sales period later than in previous years. While this remains an important sneaker sales period, the traditional timeline for back-to-school shopping (usually mid-July through early September) is now extended. This means we can expect to see back-to-school sneaker sales spread over a longer period of time.

The fifth most important selling period for basketball shoes is during March Madness. Sales during this period are not that much higher than an average week, but still enough to move the weeks into a top spot for the year.

March Madness aside, the real lesson here is that brands have to create great products 52 weeks out of the year. Consumers demand fresh ideas with every shopping trip. Brands that create one new look and hope to ride it for months will not succeed.

February 17, 2016

A Fresh Spin On Fitness

Social and digital fitness trends are having a profound impact on the sports industry. The growing popularity and emergence of programs and events such as CrossFit and The Color Run show that the consumer’s definition of fitness is evolving. While solo, gym workouts in the company of music streaming through headphones will not cease to exist, the popularity of dance party-style fun runs has only just begun. Add to that the digital fitness component; from heart rate monitoring to sleep tracking, digital fitness devices are tracking more than just our every waking move. This, too, is influencing the consumer’s relationship with fitness.

These trends are being driven by the Millennials – a generation which has changed and continues to change the landscape of retail. While it may seem as though we’ve heard enough about them by now, their influence cannot be overlooked. Millennials are a transitional generation – a link between the former generation and a truly digital one. They now outnumber Boomers and will comprise one-third of all retail sales in the next five years.

A critical difference between Millennials and their predecessors, the Boomers, is their approach to fitness. The Boomers who exercised frequently tended to buy a lot of expensive equipment and binge on an activity. Millennials, on the other hand, are committed to a healthy lifestyle, but in a much more lighthearted and less serious way. They don’t want to be defined by any one activity; they want to have fun and share those experiences with their friends, making fitness activities social ones.

Another key differentiator between Millennials and Boomers is the former’s reliance on technology for feedback in their fitness activity. Millennials want to measure, track, and share their fitness regime with their friends. As a result, awareness and sales of digital fitness devices have grown substantially in 2015, with sales growing nearly $22 million compared to 2014*, as a greater assortment of products offering a variety of features and price points has hit the market. With more features available, this has translated to more ways for fitness devices to be relevant across the spectrum of consumers from soccer moms to soccer players, and keep these consumers engaged.

Fitness has evolved from an independent activity to a social occasion. It’s an activity that can engage us with society just as much as it can provide a break from it. The digital component is adding yet another fresh spin on fitness. Together, these two trends are altering the way in which we think about sports and fitness. For brands and retailers to be successful, they must keep pace with the times and ride the wave of the next generation of consumers.

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, U.S. Sports Equipment, Annual 2015

November 27, 2015

Black Friday 2015 In The Sports Business

After a morning of retail reconnaissance, this is what Black Friday looks like in the Sports industry.

Sports retailers began to send out Black Friday offers as early as the first week of November, with most offering deals the Sunday before the Thanksgiving holiday. This has reduced the need for shoppers to get up early and, ultimately, will weaken the importance of Black Friday as a shopping event.

After the warmest October on record, mild temperatures continued to dominate most of the country. The unseasonable temperatures are hurting the cold weather businesses. One year ago, the East Coast had a major snow storm, which jumpstarted the winter businesses. Eastern retailers will face very tough comparison this year.

Tying into the warmer autumn weather effect, cold weather apparel and footwear remained challenged. With department store retailers predicting big discounts on these categories, we should expect this business to remain weak and then see major price reductions as we approach Christmas.

In terms of athletic footwear, many shoes featured in Black Friday-themed flyers were advertised at full price. This confirms the continued strength of the athletic footwear trend. Discounting on price in athletic footwear was at a moderate level.

Specifically, the Black Friday Jordan Brand releases are typically one of the largest of the year. This year’s shoe is the Air Jordan 8 Aqua Remastered ($190). The Air Jordan 8 Aqua was first worn during the 1993 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. It is one of the most wanted by fans.

While performance basketball has plateaued, Marquee Retro Basketball is still one of the strongest categories in athletic footwear.

In athletic apparel, the discounting was muted, just as we saw in athletic footwear. Most of the major advertised items were only 25 percent off, while many key items were advertised at full price. Sales are strong for athletic apparel outside of cold weather categories.

Looking at major brands, the week of Black Friday is one of Nike’s sanctioned events, thanks in large part to its Minimum Advertised Price policy. Retailers were permitted to feature select Nike products at 25 percent off. This was a very successful event during back-to-school.

Fans of Under Armour (UA) can score a deal as well. To parry the Nike MAP week, UA is offering 25 percent off all Baselayer and Big Logo hoodies. Under Armour Thrill running shoes (MSRP $59.99) were offered at $39.99.

The licensed apparel/fan wear category remains challenged. Retailers featured deep discounts this Black Friday, as much as 50 percent off. There are very few exciting new ideas in licensed apparel.

Looking at devices, last year wearable technology items were featured in many Black Friday flyers, mostly at full price. As the category appears to be plateauing, the marketing of these times appeared to be reduced.

As we saw last year, the challenged gun business saw some of the deepest discounts. We can expect this business to remain difficult over the near term.

While the golf business in big box retailers appears to have stabilized, golf equipment was heavily discounted for Black Friday. The Millennials remain a major structural problem for the golf industry.

We are having a terrific overall year in the sports business. The sports industry again appears to be off to a solid start for the holiday season.

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