Sports goods fly past the posts: Sales forecast to reach £4.4 billion in 2015 as one in 12 say they buy more sports items after watching live events

September 18, 2015

With the long-awaited Rugby World Cup kicking off this Friday, no doubt Brits across the country will be pulling on their rugby shirts to support their team in style. New research from Mintel reveals that Brits love of sporting events over the past five years has caused a winning streak for the sports goods retailing market*, with sales expected to grow by 4.2% in 2015 to reach £4.4 billion, with strong growth consistently seen since 2010.

Whilst Brits love of sport spurs on their participation, with one in 10 (10%) saying they have considered participating more in sporting activities following a major sporting event, it also spurs on their spending. One in 12 (8%) say they bought more sports clothing, footwear, equipment and/or accessories following a major sporting event.

Yet today, Mintel’s research shows that wearing sports gear is not limited to the playing fields, but clearly fixed on consumers’ fashion radars. Of those who have purchased sporting goods in the past 12 months, 70% purchased them for sports use whilst half (51%) purchased them for non-sports use. Furthermore, proving that the ‘sporty’ look is not only suited to the young, three in five (63%) UK consumers aged 45-54 say they’ve bought sports goods for non-sports use in the past year, compared to 41% of those aged 16-24.

Fashion and fans alike have struck gold for the sports goods retailing market over the past five years, with the market rising from £3.4 billion in 2010 to an estimated £4.4 billion in 2015. And looking forward to 2016 with the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and UEFA European Championship in France, the market is forecast to rise by 5.9% next year. Indeed Mintel’s research shows that even outside of sports goods purchasing sporting events can have a positive influence on the retail market, as 12% of UK consumers say they sometimes go shopping to avoid watching sporting events on TV.

Of those who have purchased sporting goods in the past year, 51% purchased them for non-sports use

Nick Carroll, Retail Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The sporting goods market has benefited from increased sporting activity following the London Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup fever will certainly continue to spur on the market this year. The fact that mainstream fashion trends have also adopted sporting looks, such as promoting the rise of casual trainer wear, has additionally stimulated consumer spending. Sportswear has for a long time been worn outside of sport but in recent years more sports-led fashion styles have entered the mass market alongside a greater number of mass-market retailers that have launched dedicated sports lines.”

And whilst the World Cup team’s may all be sporting brand-new rugby kits, Mintel’s research finds that just 5% of Brits who’ve purchased sporting goods in the past 12 months have purchased rugby goods. Alternatively, the top sport purchased for is running or jogging, with over a third (37%) purchasing items for this activity, followed by 27% who’ve bought swimming gear and the same proportion (27%) who’ve bought kit for going to the gym.

For the first time since Mintel started measuring consumer purchase of sports goods in 2012, running and jogging has become the activity the highest proportion of consumers buy goods for. Before this, swimming took the title as the most purchased for sport, whilst going to the gym in 2015 takes the third spot, overtaking football for the first time.

Indeed it seems that Brits are increasingly showing interest in being gym bunnies, as when it comes to driving sports product purchasing they show high interest in retailers offering a discount off gyms. Of those who have purchased sporting goods in the past 12 months, 29% say that customer loyalty discounts for sports clubs or gym memberships would encourage them to increase purchasing at sporting goods retailers. What’s more, 11% say that free in-store exercise studios would encourage them to spend more.

“With running, jogging and gym-going becoming more popular activities, sports goods retailers should make the most of this by encouraging participation. In-store workout class initiatives are well placed in the market. For retailers that do not have the luxury of operating such initiatives, partnerships with local or national gym chains could add value to a retailer’s proposition.” Nick comments.

Finally, Mintel’s research finds that younger consumers show strong interest in retailer innovations. One in five (19%) consumers aged 16-24 who have purchased sporting goods in the past 12 months say that the availability of wearable technology would increase their purchasing at sports retailers, whilst 18% of this group say the same of innovative store design.

Suggesting the importance of this innovation, Mintel’s research finds that young Brits are the most likely to both participate in sports and buy sporting goods. Three quarters (75%) of consumers aged 16-24 participate in sports once a week or more and the same proportion (75%) purchased clothing and footwear and 65% purchased equipment and accessories in the past year.

“We can clearly see a broad trend that younger consumers are far more interested than older consumers in sporting goods retailer and product innovations. With younger consumers more active sports participants and purchasers, it is crucial that retailers provide innovation in their retail offering to ensure they are engaging with their younger consumer base.” Nick concludes.

*Mintel defines specialist sporting goods retailers as those specialising in the sale of sports clothing, footwear, equipment and accessories (excluding specialist cycling retailers and outdoor retailers)

Press review copies of the Sports Goods Retailing UK 2015 report and interviews with Retail Analyst Nick Carroll are available on request from the press office.


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