Falling unit sales failed to slow the golf equipment category in 2006. Consumer purchases of golf equipment increased 6% to $3.7 billion, the second consecutive increase in the third-largest equipment category surveyed by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). In 2005, golf equipment sales reached $3.5 billion.
An analysis of data contained in the Association’s “Sporting Goods Market” consumer purchases surveys shows steadily declining unit sales in the key component of the category: “clubs sold in sets.”
In 2006, consumers purchased 48.2 million clubs in sets, which accounted for $1.8 billion in sales, compared to 54.0 million clubs in 2001 and 62.7 million clubs in 1996. Higher unit prices have only recently begun to stop the decline in dollar sales.
Dollar sales reached $2.0 billion in 1996 and held at the same level in 2001, despite the 13.9% decline in units. In 2003, sales hit a low of $1.45 billion on 42.5 million units and began to regain lost ground in 2004.
For individual clubs not purchased in sets, unit sales dropped 19.3% between 2001 (5.7 million units) and 2006 (4.6 million), while dollar sales have risen 4.3% ($568.3 million in 2001 to $593.0 million in 2006).
Golf balls showed similar behaviour. Unit sales in 2006 were identical to 1996, 46.8 million dozen, while sales increased to $942.1 million in 2006 from $830.7 10 years previously, an increase of 13.4%.
Sales of golf shoes have been flat during the same 10-year period. Unit sales in 2006 were 3.7 million, compared to 3.8 million in 1996. In dollars, golf shoe sales reached $232.1 million in 2006, compared to $230.6 in 1996, an increase of 0.7%.
“The lack of growth in unit sales reflects minimal growth in golf participation that we see in NSGA’s Sports Participation surveys,” said Thomas B. Doyle, NSGA vice president of information & research. “In the last 10 years, golf participation has increased 5.6% (24.4 million in 2006 versus 23.1 million in 1996), slightly less than half the rate of increase in the U.S. population during that same period (10.7%).
“Even with some increase in golf participation, unit sales growth has not followed, probably due to significantly higher club prices, which delay repeat purchases,” Doyle said.
“The Sporting Goods Market in 2007” is available for $285 for retailer/dealer members of the Association and free to manufacturer and sustaining members. For non-members, the cost is $335.