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The latest lines from the UK's biggest sports buying group
By: Jeff James
Listed Under: Top Story
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Is the sports market back on track? 2011 showed encouraging results for both sports footwear and apparel sales, thanks largely to the contribution made by young UK females.
Females 24 and under were most affected by the economic crisis in 2008/09 within the sports footwear and apparel sectors, but this group showed the fastest growth in 2011. This segment, which saw sales decline by nine per cent in 2009, recorded double digit growth in 2011, according to NPD’s Online Consumer Panel. Nevertheless, it has not recovered completely, as sales in 2011 remain below their 2008 level. To reach the same level of sales as in 2008, the market will need to grow by two per cent in 2012, which is not impossible if we consider the 2011 performance.
The latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics, however, mean NPD is cautious about making optimistic predictions for 2012. Youth unemployment passed the one million barrier recently, leaving one in five people aged between 16-24 out of work, a record high. In addition, the unemployment rate for 16-to-24-year-olds was 22 per cent during the three months to January 2012, compared to 8.4 per cent among the overall active population.
Concerns that consumers would stay away from sporting goods retailers following the rise in VAT in 2011 seemed justified when we look at the crucial 16-24-year-old segment and the squeeze on its spending power. Despite a four per cent increase in average price, 2011 results show that more sports items were purchased than in 2010 by females aged 24 and under, according to NPD’s Online Consumer Panel.
If we break out the under-24 female segment into three sub-segments (children, teenagers and 18-24-year-olds) we can see that sales increased at the same pace during 2011 across all three segments. Females aged 18-24 generated higher sales than children and teenagers, which contrasts with males 24 and under, where children account for the largest proportion of sales.
Two categories emerged as being key drivers in the growth of sales in the female sector - fitness apparel recorded the strongest growth among teenage females, while the Women’s Football World Cup in Germany last summer and the efforts of The FA to attract more females into the game seem to have had an effect on female children and teenagers, as football boot purchases showed significant growth in 2011.
Within the sports market it is interesting to note that the main purchasers of sports footwear and apparel are females, while the main users of these items are males. Nearly six out of 10 sports footwear and apparel items were purchased by females in 2011, which shows how important their role is in the market.
Half of the items they purchased were not bought for themselves, but in the same proportion for their male counterparts and children. Males, on the other hand, visit a sports shop with the intention of buying something for themselves most of the time, with only two out 10 items purchased intended for their female counterparts or children in 2011.
The NPD Group monitors the sales of sports footwear and apparel in many countries around the world. For more information contact The NPD Group sports team on 01932 355580.
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