Global Sports Equipment, Apparel and Footwear Market Nearly $280B

August 6, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Europe & Middle East | Retail & E-Commerce

Worldwide sales of sports equipment, apparel, and footwear increased a healthy 4% to $278.4 billion (185.6 billion euros) in 2007, even as the US share of the market decreased from 40% to 36%, according to a new report from the NPD Group.


That decrease was due mostly to weakness in the dollar, NPD said; conversely, Europe’s market share increased based on the euro’s strength and despite slow sales growth (2%) in Europe.

Despite its slowing economy, the US posted the highest growth rate among the top six developed countries, showing a 3% gain in the sports market, according to the data: Growth was evenly distributed between footwear (3%), apparel (4%), equipment (3%), and bikes (3%).

More findings, below, from NPD.

The fastest-growing markets were South Asia & Central Asia (13%), Middle East (16%), and Central and Eastern Europe (20%).

“This increase is being driven by wealth,” said NPD’s Renaud Vaschalde, who authored the report. “Sales are increasing in those countries where the level of economic development allows the population to purchase more discretionary goods, and we are seeing that sports brands have become an important social status symbol. Good examples of this are Kazakhstan, Israel, Poland or Slovakia.”


Western Europe, Scandinavia, Japan, and Canada posted flat growth rates. Europe experienced a strong upward trend in 2007 on bikes and accessories (7%). However, the equipment market, excluding bikes, suffered (0% growth) due to comparison with 2006, which was a World Cup year, and lack of snowfall during ski season. The main segment, apparel, has seen its prices remain below the level of inflation level, with no growth in units.

“Almost all developed countries are finding it difficult to increase growth rates above the rate of inflation.” noted Vaschalde.


In Asia, the sport and sport-inspired apparel & footwear market is the force driving the upward trend. Despite a sluggish Japanese market, Asia has several countries soaring at the moment.

“Our analysis shows that more than a third of the overall global revenue in the sports market is being generated by sport-inspired sneakers and garments vs. sneakers and garments actually used for sports. If we take out equipment and bikes, the ratio goes beyond 50% of the business done on ‘sport- style’ rather than ‘sport- use.’

“So, it comes as no surprise that manufacturers are jumping on the lifestyle wave in the hopes that their businesses can ride it into profits,” said Vaschalde.

This sport-fashion trend is even more of an opportunity for big brands (Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma). They already have a huge lifestyle business (as opposed to brands specialized by sport). The big sport brands can also afford to be present in the less mature markets, precisely where the sport-fashion business is booming and the consumers are focused on brand names.

The Next Wave: China

For the first time, The NPD Group, Inc. Global Sports estimate provided insights into the Chinese market: China is estimated to be a $7.9 billion sports market that grew 15% in 2007.

The sport & sport-inspired Chinese market segments:

  • Footwear, $1.6 billion
  • Apparel, $3.3 billion
  • Equipment, including bikes, $3 billion

The NPD Group is now able to estimate top countries’ market size broken down by sport (including non-sport use); the estimate by sport covers apparel, equipment and footwear. For China, its estimates by selected sport are as follows:

  • Football/soccer (excluding rugby and American football): $252 million
  • Running: $550 million
  • Basketball: $118 million
  • Swimming: $244 million

About the data: This study’s estimates of the global sports market’s size are based on The NPD Group, Inc.’s consumer panel tracking data, statistical projections, and the company’s sports industry expertise. The NPD Group measures the athletic footwear and sports apparel markets in 10 countries, representing 73% of the global sports sales. For the remaining 27%, NPD estimates are based on assumptions related to Gross Domestic Product development.

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