The Golfalot.com Price Index in the UK appeared to mirror the general economic picture of a bleak midwinter by recording a drop of almost -4%. Having rallied last month the Index fell sharply in December with falls across every sector. Although it appears golf retailers have followed the general pre-Christmas trend of slashing prices to entice consumers to spend, spend, spend there is evidence that the drops are simply part of a normal tactic of dealing with the off season and shifting stock that will be replaced new models in the New Year.
The Clubs Sector drove the downward trend dropping by -5% and recording the biggest fall since the Golfalot.com Price Index began in October 2004. Fairway Woods led the crash with a drop of -8.6% which included falls across the Ping range, including the new Rapture V2, and a general downturn across the Callaway range.
Drivers fell by -7.7% with Yonex and Wilson witnessing across the board drops and the TaylorMade range experiencing some major reductions on certain models. Utility Clubs fell by -5.7% after two months of growth, Wedges by -5.3% and Putters by -4.5% with Irons falling by -2.9%.
The overwhelming downward trend in the Clubs Sector can, in part, be explained by the gradual arrival of new clubs in the stores and retailers dropping the price of remaining stock. The market still awaits the imminent retail release of new Drivers and Fairway Woods from Nike and Titleist amongst others. The injection of new products should serve to steady the UK market.
In the Accessories Sector the overwhelming trend was again downwards but, at -1.2%, was less dramatic than the Clubs Sector. The big fall came from Golf Balls where a drop of -6.3% was largely due to noticeable reductions in the Callaway, Wilson and Srixon ranges. Again retailers and manufacturers will be hoping that the blip is temporary and that the introduction of new products will drive the market back up in the New Year.
Elsewhere in the Accessories Sector Shoes fell by -2.3% with Trolleys and Bags recording falls of less than -1% making them the steadiest performers throughout the December Golfalot.com Price Index.
Across the Atlantic in the United States, December saw a fall in the Golfalot Price Index of -2.1%, with falls in both the Clubs (-2.4%) and Accessories (-1.4%) sectors. Putters managed to buck the downward trend but every other category recorded a fall.
In the Clubs Sector the sharpest falls were Drivers (-3.9%) and Wedges (-4.4%). In the Drivers category Callaway prices fell most noticeably with falls of $70 or more for six of their drivers as the market caught up with the introduction of the new FT-iQ and FT-iQ Tour models that entered the Index in October. Other manufacturers with notable falls on specific models included Cleveland, Mizuno and TaylorMade. This pattern was repeated in the Wedges category with a decline in price at the premium end of the market with both Mizuno (MPR and MPT series) and Titleist (Vokey 200 and Vokey Spin Milled) showing significant drops.
The other clubs categories to experience notable drops were Fairway Woods (-2.5%) and Irons (-2.4%) and as was the case in all categories in both the US and the UK, small falls affected a broad range of manufacturers across a number of models. Utility Clubs recorded a small drop in average price (-0.9%) and only the Putter market held firm, in fact recording a small rise of +0.1%.
It was more of the same in the Accessories Sector where the Index fell -1.4% driven mainly by falls in both the Balls and Shoe categories. Golf balls fell -3.1% with notable drops at the premium end of the market, with both Titleist (Pro V1 and Pro V1x) and Nike (One Platinum) prices falling. The Shoe category dropped -3% as a result of a general fall off in prices across all manufacturers. Trolleys (-1.2%) and Bags (-0.7%) followed the trend of the Index with prices slipping slightly.
It would, perhaps, be too easy to blame the ongoing onslaught against consumer confidence for the fall in the Golfalot.com Price Index. Although the UK Index showed strong growth in the run up to Christmas in 2006 that was the only Christmas jump over 0.5% and there have only been two December increases in five years. Similarly the US Index showed respectable growth as the holiday season approached in 2007 but fell sharply in 2006. This evidence suggests that for golf retailers Christmas has never provided the cheer that it traditionally brings other retailers as they rush to get old stock off the shelves.
Looking back throughout 2008 the Index on both sides of the Atlantic has proved its resilience in bouncing back from the competition of major sporting events (Olympic Games and Euro 2008) and the depressing affect of the spate of bad weather that hit the UK. When the distorting affect of pre- and post-Christmas sales is removed and golfers ready themselves for the better weather of Spring by replacing, updating and adding to their equipment the retailers will be fully prepared with new stock from every major manufacturer. The trends of a steady 2008 appear to encourage the view that these factors will combine to help the Golfalot.com Price Index stand firm in the face of the economic trials of the world’s leading economies in 2009.
For more detailed information view the Golfalot Price Index graphs for the UK & USA online at http://www.golfalot.com/News/PriceIndex.aspx