With the credit crisis still dominating the news headlines, the Golfalot.com Price Index in the United Kingdom provided some heartening news in February with prices rises in every sector leading to an overall increase of 3.8%. The rise means the index has now more than recovered from the mini slump experienced in the run up to Christmas.
February’s increase was driven by some sharp gain in the club categories where Fairway Wood and Drivers led the way with jumps of 8.3% and 6.5% respectively. With the major manufacturers having declared their hands and 2009’s new product lines are now hitting the shops, both categories enjoyed a boost from the Cobra S9-1 range, the Nike SQ Dymo line and the partial introduction of the Adams Idea Tech a4 clubs.
In a month that saw every category rise, the other big club winner was the Irons sector with a rise of just over 5% thanks to the introduction of the Cleveland CG7 range and the Adams Idea Tech Idea A4. Elsewhere existing models like the Ping Rapture V2 made slight gains as the post Christmas sales peter out and retailers begin to look towards the start of the new season and the better weather. Wedges grew by 2.4% with Putters and Utility Clubs both gaining just over 0.5% to complete a full house of positive growth in the equipment sector.
There was also heartening news in the accessories sector where all four categories made gains. Shoes led the way with newer products like the Footjoy SynrG and the Nike Air Zoom TW 2009 holding their prices and some of the lower end products regaining some of the price drops they experienced in the pre and post Christmas rush for sales. With growth of 3.8% Shoes just pipped both Golf Balls and Bags to be the best performer in the category.
In the Golf Balls sector growth of 3.5% was especially heartening as the new Titleist ProV1 and Pro V1x and the Srixon Z-Star and Z-Star X models are still to hit the UK shelves. An increase of 3.2% in the Bags category was powered by the introduction of new models from Nike, Callaway and Wilson by a number of retailers. Trolleys enjoyed a month of consolidation in February to record growth of just under 1%.
Across the Atlantic the Golfalot.com Price Index in the United States saw a second successive month of relative stability in February. With a number of new products launched at the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando appearing in stores this month, the story in most categories was one of a discounting of old stock being offset by the introduction of new ranges, with the net effect being a small drop of 0.3% in the overall Index.
The Clubs sector registered small falls in five out of the six categories, with only wedges bucking the trend with a slight increase of 0.2%. The Drivers category fell by -0.4% with a number of older models discounted (for example the Adams XTD Pro, Callaway FT-i Tour and the Wilson Staff Spine) as the index saw the arrival of the Cobra S9-1 range and the Nike SQ Dymo range. This experience was mirrored in the Irons category with dramatic falls in the price of the Mizuno MX-19 and MX-25 irons being offset by the arrival of new premium models, most notably the Nike Victory Red Range (Forged, Split Cavity and TW Forged.
Utility Clubs (-1%) also fell with slight price reductions being seen across a range of brands, with the Fairways category remaining relatively stagnant as it benefited from the arrival of the new Cleveland Launcher. Putters were the biggest movers in the Clubs sector this month posting a drop of -2.4% with the introduction of the new value Odyssey Crimson range from Callaway driving the average price down whilst Wedges moved in a positive direction registering the sectors only increase of 0.2%.
The Accessories Sector outperformed Clubs this month registering growth of 0.3%. Although all categories posted positive growth the month’s real story is the 3.2% rise in the Golf Ball category. With the launch of new ranges from Nike (One Tour, One Tour D and One Vapor), Srixon (Z-Star and Z-Star X) and Titleist (the 09 Pro V1 and 09 Pro V1 x) the category saw significant moves in the premium end of the market that fuelled the growth of the category overall and boosted both the Accessories Sector and the Price Index in the US overall. Golf Bags (+0.5%), Golf Shoes (+0.5%) recorded slight growth while the Trolley sector remained the same.
With each passing month the Golfalot.com Price Index on both sides of the Atlantic is increasingly showing a resoluteness in the face of the economic battering both countries are suffering. The end of the extended sales period in the UK has seen prices return to a more stable level giving the Index the perfect foundation to enjoy a major boost with introduction of new products. With a number of new models still set to trickle into the stores and with the Golf Ball sector guaranteed an imminent boost there is certainly cause for at least cautious optimism as the British golf season gets into full swing.
In the United States the February story is one of consolidation with big new releases jostling for position in the Index with some hefty reductions on outgoing models. Over the last couple of months the US Index has proved hardy enough to remain stable in the growing economic storm and with the return of Tiger Woods set to dominate the national headlines and Masters’ weekend lurking just around the corner, many retailers should be quietly confident of an encouraging start to the spring and summer season.