July 1, 2009: The economy continues to take its toll in sports as sales of sports equipment, apparel and footwear worldwide remained flat at $284 billion in 2008, down from a 4% increase in 2007, according to a new study from the NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. The marketing and research firm's fourth annual study on the global sports market, "Global Sports Estimate 2009," also shows an overall decline of 1% in all of the Americas (North, Central and South) that was driven "primarily by the 2% decline in the U.S. during 2008." Sales in Europe also showed a 1% decline. However, the "overall picture was stabilized somewhat" due to sales in Asia, up 4% and the Middle-East/Africa, up 7% in 2008, per NPD. The biggest jump came in China, where sales grew 15% in 2008 and also grew for the second consecutive year. "This was due to the combination of things like a growing middle class and one that has more disposable income, as well as the fact that the Olympic Games were hosted in China that year,” according to the study.
With the exception of bikes, which posted a 4% rate growth in 2008, the stagnation of the sports industry worldwide is evenly distributed among footwear (0% growth) apparel (-1%) and equipment (0 percent). Within the Americas. footwear declined 3% in 2008. “Clearly in Japan, the U.S., and Western Europe, the sports market underperformed relative to the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product per capita evolution,” Renaud Vaschalde, global sports industry analyst for NPD Group, said in a statement.
There were some positive indicators, according to the study. Overall sales of "sport use" apparel and footwear products are on the rise, with positive results seen in the market size for running, walking/hiking, swimming, cycling, training/fitness/workout and soccer/football. And the snow sports industry posted growth worldwide in 2008. “In the case of these sports, they are convenient and easy to pursue or they are family friendly, or they are just fun. Then add to that the benefits of helping you look and feel good, and we can begin to understand more about why we have seen positive results,” Vaschalde said.
The "Global Sports Estimate 2009" also showed that despite the efforts of the NBA, NFL and others to go global, a major challenge still remains. The NPD Group reports that in the U.S., despite efforts to grow soccer, it has not yet taken hold as it has in European countries. And where basketball, baseball and American football are very popular in the U.S., there are no signs that they have gained wide acceptance globally. “Like food, sports are deeply entrenched in a population’s history and identity. Nothing can replace the passion for the Super Bowl in the U.S. or the passion for a soccer World Cup semi-final elsewhere,” said Vaschalde, “Just try to export success of a U.S. rodeo someplace or export rugby from the U.K. to Germany or cricket from India to Japan. Chances are it won’t be terribly successful.” Back to Home Page