A presentation by data research firm The NPD Group in June, moderated by sports industry analyst Dirk Sorenson and outdoor industry analyst Laura Hills, revealed revenue trends and more from the 2020-2021 pandemic-induced season, which covered everything from snow sports to apparel and outdoor gear . In the session, Sorenson, NPD’s Executive Director and Industry Senior Analyst, presented market data from a variety of categories over the past 15 months, with the pandemic year seeing growth in some categories and falling in others. SGB ​​Executive has given Dirk further insights into the survey.

Tracked various pandemic-induced market dynamics, the study began by summarizing US sports sales trends from August 2020 to February 2021, with golf and cycling at the forefront. Seven of the top 20 growth categories were in cycling, from mountain and road to kids and helmets; four were in home fitness products, including weights, treadmills, and stationary bikes; and three were into golf.

“Any category that had the following elements saw strong growth during the pandemic – getting outside, being active, and being socially connected with others,” Sorenson told SGB Executive. “For example, a small group could play golf, be social, be active, and be outside. All the elements for cycling are also provided. It can be carried out individually or in small groups and also checks the signs of being outside and being active. “

As consumers spend more time at home, fitness equipment dwarfed other sectors in sales, up 106 percent over the same period last year.

“Our retail tracking service grew in almost every home category, and home fitness was no exception,” said Sorenson, noting that sales of stationary bikes increased $ 303 million and sales of treadmills increased $ 269 million is. “Without going to organized sports or gyms, consumers invested heavily in equipment like treadmills, exercise bikes and weights.

Internet-connected products that offered streaming services and social engagement performed very well. Second place went to cycling with an increase of 54 percent. The category was led by the mountain bike, which grew to $ 366 million.

Certain categories of team sports equipment also increased by almost 30 percent. “Golf and racquet sports have been the source of tremendous growth in the team sports category. Other team sports categories fell due to a lack of organized league games for sports such as basketball, football and volleyball, ”Sorenson explained in another discussion. The study found that golf clubs grew by $ 288 million.

Outdoor sports equipment was the fourth strongest category with a plus of 22 percent; Snow sports equipment and accessories rose 2 percent before a surge in early 2021, where the category gained 11 points and reached 13 percent by March.

The clothes were shabby all along the line. Activewear rose 3 percent and athletic shoes fell 1 percent. Cozy and indoor apparel, including sweatshirts, grew by $ 492 million. Sorenson credits this to consumers who have more time to relax indoors.

“Consumers have invested in comfortable clothing for the home,” he said. “I suspect this interest will continue because the athleisure trend was there before the pandemic; However, will it occur to the extent that we’ve seen in the past 14 months? Probably not. I think it will slow down a bit as consumers have to add items to their wardrobes that they didn’t have to buy during the pandemic. “

While many shoe categories fell, basketball shoes rose $ 295 million. “This class of shoes is more of the everyday shoe that is worn more casually but is inspired by basketball shoes,” Sorenson told SGB Executive. “This trend was triggered in the early months of the pandemic when“ The Last Dance ”appeared on TV about Michael Jordan. That sparked interest in the category, and since shoes of this type were a bit of luxury that consumers could buy and enjoy, perhaps with cash from a business stimulus check, sales for the category rose. “

The study also identified the most declining sports categories, with outerwear topping the list with a decline of more than $ 400 million, followed by knit shirts with a loss of more than $ 200 million.

“This was a feature there was nowhere to go,” said Sorenson. “I suspect that there will be some recovery in people who drop out in 2021. It’s likely one of those categories that consumers didn’t invest in during the pandemic, and now that we are stepping into our new normal, going out apparel will have a comparatively stronger year through 2020. “

The lion’s share of the remaining categories were in shoes, with casual shoes losing nearly $ 200 million and running and cross-training shoes falling nearly $ 150 million each.

Other loss leaders included bottles and insulated containers, swimwear, sweaters, ice skates, cleats, and baseball.

When it comes to activities consumers want to do more of in 2021 as an indicator of which categories could continue to grow, the focus is on hiking and walking, with 57 percent of respondents aged 34-55 planning more of them in 2021, followed by fitness at home, with 38 percent of the same age group expecting to do more.

The study also compiled the results of the Consumer Sentiment Index, which shows that most consumers have confidence that the economy will recover from March 2021 and that retail dollar spending will ease, showing that purchases will continue with the issuance of the government stimulus package climb. The study also showed that inventory levels and prices were not an issue for respondents. “There are peaks that match the stimulus checks,” said Sorenson. “And when supply is limited, consumers have shown a willingness to look for these items and buy them in retail stores.”

The study also showed that the activities people want to do more of in 2022 include motorsport sales, which saw RVs jump to $ 22 billion and motor boats to $ 42 billion, and e-commerce buying behavior in the United States Consumers show what a robust growth in online spending shows. “When the pandemic broke out, consumers switched to spending online,” said Laura Hills in the presentation, Director, Client Development, NPD. “Many thought it was coming, but the pandemic really fueled it.”

The study also showed declining retail sales in places where the retail industry thrives on tourism – San Francisco, down 34 percent; New York City with a minus of 33 percent and Seattle with a minus of 26 percent.

Photo courtesy of Mizuno