Team Trends

The Numbers Game Is Looking Good


Solid – if not quite spectacular – growth in sports apparel, sporting goods equipment and licensed products spurred a strong showing for sales in the U.S. sports and fitness market last year. Wholesale sales in the category, which includes athletic footwear, sports/athletic apparel, sporting goods equipment, fitness equipment and licensed products, grew by 4.3 percent in 2022, from $111.7 billion in 2021 to $116.5 billion in 2022. 

Even better for team dealers, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) recently released Manufacturers’ Sales by Category Report, every traditional team sports equipment category had respectable growth in 2022, with wholesale sales of basketball equipment (basketball backboards, basketballs and other accessories) having the strongest statistical growth — up 10 percent from 2021 to 2022. It’s also worth noting that the overall basketball equipment category grew by 39.3 percent from 2019 to 2022. 

Other team sports categories that showed an increase in wholesale sales of equipment from 2021 to 2022 were football (up 6.5 percent), baseball/softball (up 6.3 percent), volleyball (up 6.0 percent), ice hockey (up 5.3 percent), soccer (up 3.1 percent) and lacrosse (up 1.1 percent). 

In terms of wholesale dollar sales, the top three team sports categories are baseball/softball ($729.4 million), football ($662.5 million) and basketball ($631.6 million).

And not that it matters much to traditional team dealers, but snow sports (up 11.5 percent), golf (8.3 percent), scuba and skin diving (7.5 percent), water sports (7.4 percent) and fishing (6.0 percent) also boasted growth in the sports equipment category.

From Footwear to Team Goods

Taking a closer look at the numbers for all sporting goods from 2022

As a whole, the athletic footwear category was up by two percent from 2021 to 2022, from $19.9 million in 2021 to $20.4 million. 

The casual/fashion (up 6.7 percent), tennis (6.3 percent) and fitness/workout (5.0 percent) footwear categories had solid growth. 

As for athletic footwear worn by team sports athletes, there was noticeable growth across the board for football (up 9.1 percent), baseball (8.8 percent), soccer (7.8 percent), basketball (5.9 percent) and volleyball (5.6 percent). 

In terms of pure wholesale dollar sales, basketball remains the leading team sports athletic footwear category at $989.9 million. From 2017-2022, with the exception of 2020, wholesale sales of basketball footwear exceeded $1 billion in wholesale sales. It’s worth noting that the classics/originals category, which represents many types of performance footwear from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, remained unchanged. By the way, the classics/originals category – which generated $2.8 billion in wholesale sales in 2022 – is the third largest athletic footwear category. Running shoes – at $5.9 billion in wholesale sales in 2022 – is number one. Kids’ footwear – at $2.9 billion in wholesale sales in 2022 – is second.

The sports apparel category had a vibrant year in 2022. Total athletic apparel sales, which doesn’t include branded activewear or team uniforms, were up 11.0 percent — from $25.6 billion in 2021 to $28.4 billion in 2022. 

Team sports uniform sales also improved in 2022. Uniform sales for all team sports (basketball, baseball, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, softball and volleyball) were up by 10.9 percent. The sport with the biggest statistical increase (2021 vs. 2022) was football, which had a 14.5 percent uptick. The baseball uniform category, which had a 9.7 percent jump in wholesale sales, remains the top-selling uniform category at $515.0 million. 

The entire licensed sports category in 2022 was $11.5 billion, which was up 7.1 percent since 2021 and up 26.8 percent since 2019. The growth of the entire licensed sports category can be attributed to the popularity of new team logos, the introduction of retro team uniforms and the availability of all types of logo apparel (such as socks, T-shirts, polo-style shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, hats, shorts, etc.) for males and females of all ages. Another category driver for sports licensed products has been the global popularity of active and retired professional athletes and the emergence of special events.