Global Edition

UK and US prices hold firm

7.53am 20th October 2008 - Management Topics

As the wider economy continued to feel the pressure of the credit crunch and the fall out from the banking bail-out continues, the Price Index in the UK recorded only a small drop this month with the overall performance of the index improving on the previous two months.

The combined loss of -0.5% was over a percentage point better than September as the fairway and utility sectors rallied to make up some of the ground they had lost.

Fairway Woods posted a rise of over 4.5%, making up almost half of the major slide seen in September. Prices stayed constant across the sector with some clubs, including Cleveland’s HiBore W-Series, even rising after last month’s dramatic reductions. Utility Clubs were the other big mover, a rise of 1.2% providing some much needed respite after the fall of over 6.2% last month. With clubs like the Ram Qub Pro 3 recovery club rising again after the large September reductions the sector as a whole remained fairly consistent. Wedges (+0.9%), Trolleys (+0.9%) and Shoes (+0.6%) were the other winners as half of the sectors in the index made gains.

The biggest losses came in the Driver sector (-2.6%) and the Golf Balls sector (-3.4%). Falls across the Driver sector included big reductions on Callaway and MacGregor clubs, with Drivers becoming one of the few sectors in the UK Price Index to perform considerably worse than September. There can be some confidence, however, that the sector will recover as the market awaits the influx of new models over the Autumn including hotly anticipated clubs from Nike and Titleist.

Golf Balls dropped sharply with major falls across the TaylorMade and Callaway ranges meaning that Drivers and Golf Balls have now posted falls in each of the last four months. The Irons sector suffered the same fate as Drivers with the prices falling as retailers and consumers await the latest wave of clubs, with big reductions on some Yonex and MD Golf models helping the sector to post a loss of -2.3% after gains in the last two months. Bags and putters experienced slight dips of less than one percent.

With the total club sector falling by under one percent and accessories making a gain of 0.4% the Price Index in the UK would appear to be stabilising again after the slight downturn of August and September. With new clubs on the way and the manufacturers promoting their new models in a big way it would appear there are plenty of signs to suggest that cautious optimism in the market is not misplaced.

Across the Atlantic the Price Index in the USA also dropped slightly, falling by -0.5%. The average prices for Drivers (-2.4%), Fairways (-2.6%) and Utility Clubs (-4.5%) all fell however this was offset by increases in the other categories measured which all showed slight positive growth.

The categories that fell were characterised by dramatic falls in price of only a small number of models as retailers anticipate the imminent release of new models from manufacturers. Drivers saw the Callaway Hyper X and Hyper X Tour fall significantly ahead of the anticipated entry to the index of the new Callaway FT-iQ, and this was mirrored in Fairways (-2.6%) and most notably Utilities (-4.5%) where the discounting by one retailer of the Sonartec HB001 and MD Trans clubs significantly impacted the index.

Irons (+0.7%), wedges (+0.1%) and putters (0.2%) all showed slight increases in the index with Irons benefiting from the entry into the index of the Mizuno MP-52 and MP-62 sets as well as the new irons, the Rapture V2 and S57, from Ping, whilst putters saw the introduction of the new models into the Scotty Cameron Studio Select Range.

All of the non-club index categories saw small increases with Bags, which benefitted from the new Sun Mountain range, up +0.8% and balls, up +0.4%, the most notable movers.

With the credit crunch going global the Price Index has remained reasonably stable in October with some sectors even beginning to fight back after the Olympic Games and a run of bad weather in the UK caused a slowdown in the late summer.

While the predictions that the financial turmoil is about to filter down from the banks to the High Street suggest the rest of the year could be quite traumatic there must be a level of optimism that the launch of a flotilla of new clubs and the approach of Christmas can help the Price Index beat the financial blues.

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