Report: Global Sporting Goods Market Dips For First Time in Dozen Years


For the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, the global sporting goods marketing declined in 2020 by approximately 7 percent to approximately $346.7 billion. The contraction was caused, in part by impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that included cancelled sporting events, according to a joint study from the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) and McKinsey & Co.

The finding plus eight key emerging trends likely to impact the sporting goods industry in 2021 and beyond were uncovered from an industry-wide survey conducted by both organizations entitled, “Sporting Goods 2021-The Next Normal for an Industry in Flux.”

As 2020 progressed beyond the early months of the pandemic, traditional sporting goods companies began outperforming the wider apparel market with sports equipment makes doing especially well and sportswear companies showing more resilience than the overall apparel industry.

WFSGI/McKinsey says 64 percent of survey respondents expect ‘better’ or ‘much better’ market conditions in 2021 compared to last year as supply chains and COVID-related issues pose the biggest, most potential headwinds.

With approximately 30 percent of consumers accelerating their exercise habits in 2020, many purchasing new apparel/gear and becoming more health-conscious, it has raised the bar for vendors and retailers alike in 2021.

The survey, conducted in Sept. and Oct. 2020, identified eight key trends likely to shape the sporting goods industry in 2021 and beyond. They are:

  • Athleisure as a megatrend is on the rise with 75 percent of industry executives forecasting further growth for the category.
  • Shifts in Physical Activity have been triggered by the pandemic with 30 percent of consumers being more active and 40 percent less active.
  • Sports Marketing will unlikely be closely linked to major sporting events in the future and will focus on digital.
  • More agile supply chains are here to stay for vendors, prompted by shorter demand cycles, ecommerce and closer Direct-To-Consumer relationships.
  • Sustainability has become an increasingly urgent consumer priority. The number of net new sustainable SKUs introduced online grew by 58 percent between mid-2017 and mid-2020.
  • Traditional Retail needs to find new purpose, experiences and new levels of convenience that cannot be offered digitally. Forty-five percent of respondents forecast fewer brick-and-mortar doors in 2021.
  • Digital Fitness is here to stay. It won’t replace traditional sports and exercise but it will enhance them in a new ‘hybrid’ model.
  • A Leap Forward in Online Shopping. The online share of major sporting goods brands rose three-fold between 2019 and the first half of 2020. Experts believe it will decline post lockdowns before settling at approximately 25 percent of all purchase.