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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.

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Sports
Solutions


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.


Analytic Solutions

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.



Sports
Reports


Global Sport Estimate

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.



Sports
Press Releases


August 1, 2017

Hydration is a Hot Spot for the U.S. Outdoor Industry, Reports The NPD Group

Water may seem like a small luxury, but consumers are showing that they are willing to pay the price for it. According to global information company The NPD Group, Inc., hydration represents a $345.7 million category within the core U.S. outdoor industry*, with sales up 16 percent in the 12 months ending May 2017. Dollar sales have grown by $94 million in the past two years, or 37 percent.


May 17, 2017

The NPD Group Expands Retail Tracking Service to Cover U.S. Team Sports Equipment

Global information company The NPD Group today announced that it has expanded its Retail Tracking Service to provide the most comprehensive view of the U.S. team sports equipment market. Data will encompass the major categories of basketball, football, baseball, softball, soccer, hockey and field hockey, racquet sports, golf, and lacrosse.


April 17, 2017

Athleisure Trend Moves into Makeup, Beauty’s Fastest-Growing Category

Active wear today is no longer exclusive to athletic apparel; recent growth in key makeup categories coincides with the rising popularity of makeup as the latest workout essential. In the U.S., prestige makeup sales increased by 11 percent to $7.6 billion in the 12 months ending February 2017, accounting for over 80 percent of total industry gains*, according to global information company The NPD Group. Growth in foundation, primers, eye brow, and lip color products, as well as those formulated to be long-lasting and waterproof, are playing into the trend.


March 13, 2017

U.S. Climbing Industry Reaches New Heights: Sales Rise as the Outdoor Experience is Brought Inside

The urbanized and less-traditional camping phenomenon has made its way into the U.S. climbing market. Beyond the mountains, increasing popularity of indoor climbing has sparked new interest in the activity, helping the industry to grow by 13 percent in the 12 months ending January 2017, according to global information company The NPD Group. The industry has grown its sales by $52.9 million since 2014, reaching a four-year high of $175.5 million.


January 30, 2017

U.S. Athletic Footwear Industry Grows 3 Percent to $17.5 Billion in 2016, Despite Turbulence in Q4, NPD Group Reports

The U.S. athletic footwear industry grew by 3 percent in 2016*, generating $17.5 billion, according to global information company The NPD Group. Unit sales also grew by 3 percent and average selling price remained flat, at $60.81.


January 30, 2017

U.S. Athletic Footwear Industry Grows 3 Percent to $17.5 Billion in 2016, Despite Turbulence in Q4, NPD Group Reports

The U.S. athletic footwear industry grew by 3 percent in 2016*, generating $17.5 billion, according to global information company The NPD Group. Unit sales also grew by 3 percent and average selling price remained flat, at $60.81.


September 19, 2016

Bicycle Parts and Accessories Categories Influenced by Shifts in Technology and Consumer Purchasing Behavior, NPD Group Reports

Key trends within the $6.4 billion U.S. cycling market tied to technology launches and pragmatic purchasing on the part of consumers have heightened the importance of specific categories within the industry, namely tires and tubes, wheels and wheel parts, and lubes/cleaners, according to global information company The NPD Group.


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 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.


Sports
Insights


August 21, 2017

What’s Happening in the Global Sports Market?

How big is the global sports market, which countries are leading in spend, and which growth categories are worth watching? See the best opportunities across 19 countries and 17 sports.


June 15, 2017

Back-to-School Shopping: Looking Back to See Ahead

The back-to-school season is the second largest retail shopping season. To gauge what’s to come this year, we looked back on last year’s back-to-school shopping behavior


April 7, 2017

The Race to Bring Products to Market in Retail

From getting in and out of stores, to placing orders online, to getting products to the marketplace—everything is faster in retail today. How has this changed the retail landscape in sport, what does it mean for manufacturing in the U.S., and how will this ultimately impact the consumer?


April 5, 2017

Performance Heritage and Retro Footwear

Performance running, walking, basketball and hiking shoes are trending negatively, while retro, non-performance footwear categories remain strong. What does it take for performance footwear to make a comeback? How can these brands innovate and integrate retro elements to tap into consumers’ desire to project active lifestyles? Find out in this video featuring sports industry analyst Matt Powell.


March 28, 2017

The State of Activewear

The active apparel and footwear business is growing at a much faster rate than fashion apparel and footwear. With over 2,000 activewear brands and sales up 10 percent, what will brands need to do to stand out in this noisy marketplace? How will celebrity and performance brands fare? Find out in this video featuring sports industry analyst Matt Powell.


March 28, 2017

The Impact of the Sports Authority Bankruptcy on Retail

When the Sports Authority went under, nearly 20-30 percent of the sports business evaporated overnight. How has this retailer’s absence in the marketplace impacted other retailers and e-commerce, and what does this mean for the sports industry at large? Find out in this video featuring sports industry analyst Matt Powell.


December 15, 2016

Join us at Winter OR 2017

Going to the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show? Meet us at Market Booth #111! There’s so much to look forward to at Winter OR in Salt Lake City. See why we’re excited – watch Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell’s new video.


October 18, 2016

The Power of Athletic and Outdoor Consumer Segmentation

Competing in the hot-and-getting-hotter U.S. athletic and outdoor markets makes it necessary to understand the purchase behavior of every kind of consumer, from core athletes to those who are barely active. You can use NPD’s segments or create your own to gain targeted insight into your consumers up close. Here’s a look at what the data can tell you.


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.


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.



Sports
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts


August 21, 2017

Sneakernomics: No, Athleisure is not Dead

With the disappointing quarterly results from some of the major sports retailers, there has been a renewed cry that the athleisure trend is over. While recent results for athleisure have been challenged, the rest of the apparel and footwear markets have actually been much worse.  The gap in trend between athletic and fashion has remained about the same. There is no indication that the athleisure customer is spending their money on other footwear and apparel.

There is no question that we are in a cycle of brick & mortar retail malaise in the U.S., with many of the industries that NPD measures experiencing a slowing down of sales. Retail traffic continues to slide downward, and we are on track to close a record number of stores this year. It appears that retail is killing retail.

We cited a year ago that many fashion brands were rushing into athleisure to tap into the positive growth the category was experiencing at the time. This has created a glut of brands that are making performance apparel when they have no history of making (or marketing) “performance apparel.” We predicted a bubble, and that bubble is bursting. In the meantime, the glut of inventory is hurting the core performance brands and retailers.

In an effort to reverse their sagging wholesale sales, several brands have ramped up their direct-to-consumer efforts. The branded athletic outlet business is robust, as is online discounting. But this devalues the regular product sold in core retail.

We are in a sportswear-as-fashion cycle right now. There is not a single performance category that is trending positively. Brands have been unable or unwilling to create more sportswear to feed this market, instead making more performance products that have to be reduced to clear.

Much of the product at retail is uninspiring and tired. Brands have not done a good job of creating compelling new products to ignite the market.

At the same time, in an effort to drive sales, brands have loosened restrictions on retailer promotions. This combination of too much weak off-trend product, and more permissive rules have made this back-to-school period the most promotional in more than two decades. When price is the sole motivator for purchase, retail is in trouble. Shopping in sports has never felt more joyless

As we have noted previously, there has been a slowdown in sneaker purchases by Hispanics. This has also had a major dampening impact on the industry.

So Athleisure is not dead by any means, but like much of retail it is very sick.

The sports industry is at a critical crossroad. Will the industry go the way of the rest of teen retail, chasing the deepest discounts in a race to the bottom, or will the industry do the right thing and return to the days of full-price sales, focusing on the aspiration and inspiration that made the industry great? 

Time will tell which course wins out.


August 14, 2017

Sneakernomics: Second Quarter Performance for the U.S. Athletic Footwear and Activewear Markets

The calendar was kinder to the second quarter than the first, but challenges still remain in the athletic footwear and activewear space.

While the overall Q2 sales trend (April-June) in athletic footwear was actually better than Q1, it had more to do with calendar shifts than an actual improvement. The late Easter benefited April sales, which were up in the high single-digits. Both May and June sales declined, which is setting the stage for potentially poor back-to-school results.

Looking at the quarter overall, men’s and kids’ athletic footwear sales were down in the mid-single digits, while women's grew in the low singles. Looming over is the slowdown in sneaker purchases by Hispanics, which is impacting sales this year. In terms of channel performance, shoe chains and department stores both grew their sales. Athletic specialty/sporting goods declined, as a result of what I’ve said will be the last quarter where we feel the heat of The Sports Authority comparison.

In terms of category performance, classics, which had been growing at a stifling pace, slowed to a low teens increase. Adidas classics were essentially flat as key franchises are now post-peak. Nike grew by more than one-third in this category, and Puma increased sales in the mid-single digits. Casual athletic has become the hot category these last few months, leading the pack in Q2 with sales up nearly 50 percent. Market share leader Adidas is clearly exploiting this strong fashion trend. Other categories that experienced growth include outdoor/water sandals and sport slides.

Basketball footwear has not rebounded, with sales down in the high teens for Q2. All the major brands in this space took a hit. The struggle in running continues, with Q2 sales down in the high singles. All the major technical running brands continue to see a decline in sales. Nike running was soft, as new initiatives have not had much impact. Adidas was a bright spot for the category, as its running sales more than doubled. Other categories that saw sales decline were cleated products and hiking/light hiking footwear.  

By brand, Adidas and Puma were among the top gainers in Q2, while Nike, Brand Jordan, Converse, and Under Armour saw sales decline. Nevertheless, the Nike brands continue to dominate the top-selling list. The top-selling styles of Q2 were Nike Air Huarache, Nike Tanjun, Jordan XI Low, Converse All Star OX Low, and Adidas Superstar.

Activewear sales for the quarter were also down, in the low single-digits. The men’s market declined in the low singles, while women’s was flat and kids’ grew in the low singles. Sales grew at department stores and national chains, while the athletic specialty/sporting goods channel declined.

Looking at some of the bigger categories in the market, knit shirts, active bottoms, socks, and sport bras all experienced a sales decrease. One of the biggest gainers was sweatshirts, with sales up over 20 percent.

Private label remains a hot story, as retailers are trying to escape the extreme promotional environment caused by changes in brands’ ad policies. Sales of private label activewear grew during the second quarter.

In terms of major brand performance, Adidas, Fruit of the Loom, and Hanes experienced sales increases while Nike and Under Armour sales were soft.

Two important seasons – back-to-school and holiday—close out the year and sway overall annual sales. I expect this back-to-school to be the most promotional one in 20 years, and for sales to be soft. Holiday will likely also be challenged, but hopefully not to the same degree.


July 25, 2017

Sneakernomics: The State of the Outdoor Business

The overall state of the U.S. outdoor business has not been very good. According to data from NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, dollar sales are down year-to-date through May 2017 compared to the same period one year ago, across the men’s, women’s, and kids’ markets.

Some of the reasons are well-known. The closing of The Sports Authority and Sport Chalet created a void that has not been filled. Outdoor products sold through the athletic specialty/sporting goods channel have declined in the high single-digits. At the same time, little of these lost sales have been picked up in the outdoor specialty channel, where sale are down in the low single-digits for the year so far. Even sales in outdoor e-commerce have declined.

The ongoing retail rationalization has had an impact on the entire retail business. Retail sales in general are slowing. Consumers are spending more money on travel and experiences, and less on things like shoes and shirts. The cold and wet spring in much of the nation did not help. All these are part of the problems in outdoor retail.

The sports specialty business remains under siege as well. As we look across that landscape, sales are tough for specialty categories like cycling and running. Outdoor specialty is not immune to these forces. There is likely a “silent” rationalization happening in the specialty businesses where small stores and chains are shuttering as well.

Looking at specific categories, the outdoor accessories business declined in the high single-digits for the year so far. The luggage business did trend positively, a reflection of the robust travel business. Travel remains a great opportunity for the outdoor industry to exploit. The bag business is down in the mid-singles, with only sports equipment bags trending up. Sunglass sales are down in the mid-teens.

Outdoor apparel declined in the mid-singles. The cool spring no doubt helped certain categories as headwear, handwear, cold weather undergarments, and outerwear all posted gains. This, however, was offset by declines in sportswear and sweats/active bottoms.

Outdoor equipment sales were down in the low-teens. Equipment accessories also declined in the low-teens as a sharp drop in cookware and instruments business offset growth in coolers, where the soft-sided business is surging.

The camping business, a bright spot a few years ago, posted a high single-digit decline year-to-date. The hot climbing business was also down, dropping in the low single-digits.

Footwear sales were also soft, down in the high single-digits, as very weak running shoe sales tempered low single-digit growth in outdoor footwear.

When we look at the outdoor business by brands, we see that those including Patagonia, Marmot, SmartWool, Arc’teryx, Osprey, Kuhl, and Keen all had increases. The North Face, Columbia, Merrell, and YETI all experienced declines for the year so far. 

All in all, it has been a tough year for the outdoor industry. While there are opportunities like travel to exploit, the industry must respond to the ever-changing retail business.



July 17, 2017

Sneakernomics: The Future Looks PUNY!

There has certainly been a lot of bad news for the U.S. sports industry recently. We cited the dramatic slowdown in the sneaker purchases by Hispanics, as well as a pessimistic prediction for back-to-school.  The short term prospects for the industry are not very bright.

Nevertheless, there are some bright spots for the industry which may help reverse its fortunes. I describe those opportunities as PUNY: Premium, Unique, New, and Young. Let’s explore these ideas.

The athletic shoe business in the U.S. has always been built on aspiration and inspiration, with emphasis on better price points. Conspicuous consumption has been a hallmark of the industry. While today’s highly charged promotional environment would seem to argue against this trend, we are still seeing strength at the top price points.

In every channel, much of the growth is coming from the high end of each channel’s pricing. The top seller list is dominated by higher priced items.

There is bifurcation in pricing where the growth is split between better prices and opening prices. Premium products can serve as an effective strategy to build the business.

When asked to describe themselves in one word, Gen Z most frequently called out “unique.” Gen Z has indicated a willingness to spend more for unique products that help this generation define themselves. This cohort wants to buy unique products from unique brands, sold through unique retailers.

However, this uniqueness must not stray too far from the core. I describe this attitude as, “I want to be different, just like my friends.” This opportunity should bolster smaller brands and retailers. Exclusive styles and colors are one way for brands and retailers to leverage this trend. Personalization and customization are also effective strategies.

Millennials and Gen Z are both attracted to the new. They are early adopters of everything from tech to fashion. Technology and innovation are driving their attraction to the new. New products are often unique as well as premium.

Combined, Millennials and Gen Z now represent more than half of the U.S. population. The share of each cohort to the total grows every day. On top of that, Gen Z is now old enough to enter the workforce and become an even stronger economic force.

On the other hand, the Boomer rank has declined by about one million per year – a rate that will only accelerate. Chasing a declining Boomer population is not a recipe for success in this industry.

The one issue with these PUNY opportunities is that not all of them are at scale to offset the weaknesses elsewhere. Brands and retailers must seize these opportunities to reverse the declines the industry faces.



July 10, 2017

Sneakernomics: Athletic Footwear and Activewear Back-to-School 2017 Predictions

I am more pessimistic today than I was in December about the short-term prospects for the U.S. athletic footwear and apparel markets.

Late last year, my expectation was that 2017 would be an average year, with a weak first half offsetting a strong second half. The anticipated soft sales in February occurred, but the rebound has not materialized.

Then I discovered the Hispanic spending slowdown, as I wrote about recently. Athletic footwear sales to Hispanics have been quite soft, after several years of good growth. As Hispanics represent more than 20 percent of the U.S. athletic footwear market, this slowdown has had a significant impact on the business, and I expect that it will contribute to a soft back-to-school performance for athletic footwear. All brands and channels are affected by this Hispanic slowdown, but Nike, Brand Jordan, Vans, and Skechers are hurt the most.

Classics, lifestyle running, and casual athletic will remain the strongest growth categories. Performance footwear will remain soft for back-to-school, although the declines in basketball will moderate with easier comparisons. In line with this, technical running brands will continue to struggle.  Nike has had soft sales results in the U.S. and there is nothing to suggest that this trend will get better for the back-to-school season. Representing about half of the total athletic footwear market share in the U.S., Nike sales impact the entire industry. My expectation is that Under Armour footwear sales will struggle for back-to-school, even with the expanded distribution. 

All in all, I expect that athletic footwear will post a low to mid-single digit decline for the back-to-school season. Given the changes to advertised pricing policies, we can expect this to be the most promotional back-to-school in the 17 years I’ve been doing research.

I also expect that the U.S. activewear market will be challenged, but for different reasons. Since the beginning of the activewear movement, hundreds of fashion brands have rushed into the category to try and grab some of the gold. Retailers are now filled to the rafters with sweatshirts and yoga pants, most of which are made by brands that don’t know how to make performance apparel, and sold to retailers who don’t know how to sell performance apparel.

This push has caused a glut in the market that will take time to flush out. The core activewear brands and retailers are getting crushed under the increased and inferior competition.

Both Nike and Under Armour apparel will most likely struggle for back-to-school, while Adidas will thrive. The more mass brands should also fare well this season.

I expect that activewear sales during back-to-school 2017 will decline in the low single-digits.

As in athletic footwear, this will be one of the most heavily promotional environments seen in decades.


June 26, 2017

Sneakernomics: Hispanics’ Sneaker Slowdown

U.S. athletic footwear sales have been a puzzle this spring. While I accurately predicted the weakness due to the late income tax refunds and late Easter, the expected bounce-back simply did not happen. The sales trend was below expectations in March, April, and now May.

Looking for explanations, I went back to investigate a trend that I began to see late last year, and made a startling discovery. Sales of sneakers to Hispanics in the U.S. have slowed dramatically from the previous trend. Data from The NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service shows that sales of athletic and outdoor footwear to Hispanics grew in 2016 in the mid-teens, and accounted for nearly all the growth we saw last year. Hispanics represented about 23 percent of sneaker sales in 2016. Since the beginning of 2017, however, sales of sneakers to Hispanics slowed to a high-teens decline. No other cohort saw this kind of slowdown.

This slowdown accounts for a change in trend that can be measured in the hundreds of basis points. The change in shopping behavior has been significant in the disappointing results so far this year.

The channel hardest hit by this change in behavior has been shoe chains, followed by sporting goods and national chains; however, no channel was immune to the slowdown.

Looking at the results by category, work/occupational footwear sales to Hispanics improved and outdoor footwear sales stayed about the same. Performance footwear took the hardest hit, especially in the already weak basketball, skate, and running categories. Sport leisure was also markedly weaker this spring than last year.

From a brand point of view, the slowdown in purchases by Hispanics greatly impacted Vans, Nike, Skechers, and Brand Jordan. Adidas and Puma (two hot brands right now) actually strengthened.

Why has this change in behavior occurred? A recent comment from Robert Kaplan, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, to USA Today, may offer a clue. He said that millions of immigrants have become “more likely to save than to spend,” and this will “have some muting effect on consumer spending and therefore GDP growth.”

Whatever the reason, this change is important. My expectations for the back-to-school season and beyond are now much lower due to this Hispanic slowdown.


June 15, 2017

Sneakernomics: Fall Sports Recap

Earlier this month, I wrote about the slow start to the spring sports season. Looking at the traditional fall season sports, including soccer, American football and basketball, I am expecting sales to move in a similar direction.  

Soccer sales overall have been as soft in the U.S. as they have been in Europe. Soccer equipment was a $700 million business in the U.S last year; and sales were down in the low single digits in 2016. Soccer balls, the largest category, declined in the low single digits, and soccer protective gear declined by a similar amount, while soccer training aids had a nice increase. Sales of soccer boots were down in the high single digits.

Both Adidas and Nike, the two largest soccer equipment brands in the U.S, had soft sales in 2016.

American football equipment sales in the U.S. grew in the low single digits, driven by a high single-digit increase in footballs, the largest category. Most other football equipment categories declined for the year, including football cleats which declined in the low teens.

Wilson held the largest share of the football equipment market, with its sales growing in the low teens. Nike and Under Armour football equipment both posted declines.

Basketball was one of the best-performing categories for 2016, with sales up in the high single digits. Hoop systems (a high ticket item) had great sales, which increased in the high single digits. Basketballs grew in the mid-singles, and accessories and training aids also grew. Basketball footwear declined in the high teens in 2016; however, we know from NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service that the majority of basketball shoes are not purchased with the intention of wearing them for sport.

The four largest basketball equipment brands—Spaulding, Lifetime, Wilson, and Nike—all grew in 2016.

Given the overall soft start to 2017 in sports equipment, I do not expect significant growth in the fall sports market.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, Annual 2016



June 7, 2017

Sneakernomics: Spring Sports Have Not Yet Sprung

Unconventional springtime weather that’s more akin to the late fall season is having a dampening effect on U.S. team sports equipment sales. With the recent expansion of The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, we now have a more complete picture of the nature of team sports in the U.S. This blog will focus on spring sports including baseball, softball, racquet sports, lacrosse, and volleyball. In some states soccer is played in the spring, but the bulk of sales come in the fall, so soccer is not included here. I will talk about soccer and basketball as fall sports in a later blog.

Baseball/softball is the largest spring sport in terms of U.S. merchandise sales, at about $1 billion. Sales for full-year 2016 declined in the low single digits. The largest category is baseball/softball bats, with sales being flat for the year. Gloves and mitts, the second largest category, experienced a low single-digit decline. Batting gloves dropped in the mid-singles, while balls saw low single-digit growth. Trends have not yet improved in 2017; year to date through April, baseball/softball equipment sales were down in the high single digits. The cold and wet spring has been a factor in keeping kids off the field. Also, as a result of new bat regulations going into effect next spring, retailers and brands are destocking ahead of the change. Most major brands in baseball/softball are in decline for the year so far, with Franklin as an exception.

Similarly, racquet sport sales for 2016 declined in the mid-single digits. Racquet sales were down in the mid-single digits, and continue to be down, in the low single digits, thus far in 2017.

Lacrosse equipment sales grew in 2016, as the sport continues to spread across the country. More and more schools are adding lacrosse to their sports programs. But year-to-date sales are down in the mid-single digits, again being impacted by the wet weather.

Volleyball sales also grew in 2016, and are up nearly 10 percent for 2017 to date. Since this sport is often played indoors, the weather has had little influence.

The spring sports business remains at the mercy of weather, and a lack of growth in terms of sports participation is not helping the situation. Though we cannot control the weather, it is important for industry players to garner greater interest and involvement in sports participation, for the health of our youth, and of our industry.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service


May 30, 2017

Sneakernomics: Golf Sales in Decline

As I wrote about here, the macro environment for golf is pretty unpleasant. Courses are closing, brands are shuttering, retailers are going out of business, and young people are not adopting the game. These are all indications of a sport in decline.

With the recent release of The NPD Group’s tracking service for team sports equipment, we can see further evidence of this deterioration. Golf equipment sales for the full year of 2016 were down in the low single-digits. Club sales, an indicator of new players adopting the game, were down in the high single-digits. Golf balls, an indicator of rounds played, declined in the low single-digits. One bright spot was growth in the accessories and grips category.

It has been a mixed bag for the major equipment brands. Callaway equipment sales for 2016 grew in the mid-teens, while Taylor Made experienced a decline, as did Nike, which previously announced its intention to exit the golf equipment business. Cobra Puma Golf experienced a low-teens increase for the year. Wilson and Titleist sales declined, while FootJoy had a low single-digit increase. Nike Golf shoe sales grew in the low single-digits for the year, with Skechers sales tripling. Nike and Adidas golf shoes both grew as well, while FootJoy had a decline.

Golf apparel saw a low-teens increase for the year, driven by knit shirts. Knit shirts were paced by big increases from Greg Norman and Under Armour.

For 2017 to date, sales of golf equipment are down more than 20 percent, with club sales particularly soft. Golf shoe sales grew in the high teens, while apparel declined about 25 percent.

With sales struggling, the golf business is now a market share game. Brands and retailers can win, but they will do so only by taking share from others.

 

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service



May 18, 2017

Sneakernomics: The U.S. Team Sports Equipment Marketplace

This week, NPD reached another important milestone with the launch of its team sports equipment tracking service: we now provide the most comprehensive reporting available on the entire universe of team sports equipment sales in the U.S. With this dataset, retailers and brands will be able to track and monitor overall trends; identify areas that  are over-performing or underperforming in the market; measure lift from promotions; and use historical and current volumes to enable informed decision-making.

At a high level, the $6.5 billion U.S. team sports equipment market grew by 1 percent in 2016*. This soft overall growth comes as no surprise given the negative trend we’ve seen in terms of sports participation in the U.S. More specifically, there were healthy gains in equipment categories including basketball, lacrosse, sport bags, and protective gear, which were offset by losses in golf, baseball/softball, soccer, and hockey.

Team sports equipment is a very brand diverse market, with many small brands making only a handful of items. The top ten brands make up only about half of the market. Of the top ten equipment brands, the growth drivers in 2016 were Wilson, Callaway, and Spalding.

Given the cool, wet weather and delayed tax refunds, dollar sales were down in the first quarter of 2017. I expect sales to improve in the months ahead, as warm weather unfolds and parents equip their sports-playing children with their gear heading into the back-to-school season.

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service

 

Data is representative of retailers that participate in The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service. NPD’s current estimate is that the Retail Tracking Service represents approximately 70 percent of the U.S. retail market for team sports equipment.



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