UK Golf Retail Market Update: May 2018

BOOM! All of a sudden, it wasn’t that bad and the sun came out!!

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After months of generally poor results in Golf Retail – things have finally had an up-turn. Following a lukewarm performance in April, where we managed to get the deficit versus 2017 to under 5% – things really hotted up in May…

So, is the market now up?

Hold your horses – It’s better, but still isn’t great. According to the Golf Datatech UK retail audit May saw a very impressive 11.5% increase overall, versus May 2017. That’s a great performance, given the trials of the year so far. The year to date figures are now back to just -0.1% down – so pretty much flat versus 2017.

All told, that’s a big surprise. I honestly didn’t see such a strong performance coming. While the weather was really good, (more on that later), I worried that it might have been too good, and put people off playing golf – choosing to do something else instead. However, that wasn’t the case when it came to spend, and people reached for their wallets.

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Bettering Amazon: Advice for the Smaller Retailer

Following my article outlining some of the lessons learned from Amazon, here are a few pointers for the golf retailer on how one could use some of Amazons tactics.

So what does the rise in online sales mean for smaller retailers?

First of all, you are going to have to compete with Amazon and the other big online marketplaces – this is just a fact of life.  These behemoths of the online world have advantages in the scale of their operation, the sheer range of products they can provide, their reach, and their infrastructure – but do not be disheartened.

You have strengths that the online giants don’t have. So, what should you be doing?

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UK Golf Retail Market Update: April 2018

Following a few months of poor results, we all had our fingers crossed for some better numbers in April. However as the poor weather continued we weren’t feeling that confident.

April was wet (15% more rain days), dull (only 90% of usual sunshine) but warm (14% warmer than average) – so were there any glimmers of sunshine? In fact, yes.

Surprisingly, April was actually a pretty good month – but not for everyone. Total sales value was up 7.4% Vs 2017, which meant the first increase in monthly performance this year. This drags back the annual number to -4.4%: still not great, but an improvement all the same.

So, is everyone happy?

Not entirely. The On-Course sales seem to have done better this month: up 15% compared with Off-Course, which was down by just 3% (again, an improvement over

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UK Golf Retail Market Update: March 2018

Despite recent, improved temperatures, it’s been a ‘damp squib’ this year,  (for want of a better expression) … and the numbers have been equally disappointing. I’m not referring to my own game here, which is always a bit up and down: I’m referring to the retail sell-through we have seen so far in 2018.

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After the gloomy start to the year, it was with some trepidation that I spent most of April charging around the UK, visiting hardware manufacturers to talk numbers. Surprisingly, though, there was a definite air of optimism that I found very encouraging.

So, with a sense of positivity, let’s dig through the market numbers to see if there are any green shoots to discuss.

“It‘s been a bit rubbish, weather-wise, so I’m assuming the market was down?”

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Market Update – February 2018

With the March data due to be released very shortly I thought I should put out some quick commentary on the season so far. February is usually the smallest month – typically 4.8% but it can give us some direction on how the season is going to go. So lets get stuck in.

Its been wet but has it been as bad as it feels?

Yes, the market to the end of February was pretty bad.

Value trend Feb 2018 YTD

The market was down 7% in February, bringing the overall YTD down to 13%. That’s not a good start, and, a stark contrast to last year. However, when we look at these stats, we realise that last year is part of the problem. And, while we’re down year on year, we are up nearly 4% on 2016 – so things aren’t quite as bad as it may appear (or feel).

Last year saw one of the biggest growths we recorded at Golf Datatech – so it was always going to be a tough act to follow.

OK, so it was DOWN – But Does that Apply to all Categories?

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Lessons from Amazon

Times are a changing, and in the world of retail, things move very quickly indeed. The online (clicks) and offline (bricks) continue to battle for the consumer spend and, of course, each has its pro’s and cons. Bricks and mortar provide the experience and immediate gratification of being able to touch and see: whereas online stores have seemingly infinite choice, and greater convenience, enabling you to shop from your armchair.

If the online channel is of interest to you, then there is one certainty – Amazon has changed the marketplace for ever.

So, what does lessons can golf retailers learn from the largest online retailer in the world?

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Lesson 1: Have Clear Business Aims

Amazon established clear business principles and focused on them without distraction – no matter what anyone else thought or said.

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Old, “Establishment” Brand Makes Changes to Move with the Times! What can Golf Learn?

BBC 4 recently broadcast a thought-provoking documentary that had some very useful insights for the golf industry: “Inside Bentley – A Great British Motor Car”?  

It featured the thinking behind a £800 million investment in their latest model, the Bentayga: the fastest SUV ever built – a Bentley on steroids! It is the first time that they had developed an SUV. During its development it was essential that it sat perfectly in Bentley’s image, yet capable of winning-over future generations of customers. Clearly, they had recognised that, as the number of older customers diminished, (“the blazers” as they were referred to), the company needed to respond to the wants of younger generations.

Step one demanded product development as identified.

Step two importantly was the need to modernise their image at the point of sale. Hence the program saw the world’s oldest and largest Bentley dealer, Jack Barkley of Mayfair, having its interior stripped back and being replaced with sleek, new modern fittings and fixtures.

Bentley, an icon of British society, and Rolls Royce, have both recognised the need for change.  So must the golf industry if it is to prosper in changing times and it too needs to take a similar two-step approach.

The first, updating the product: offering different forms of golf, e.g. speed or football golf, for example, and competitions that are more in tune with family life today. The second, going out of its way to promote a new image for the sport giving it a much-needed, wider appeal: particularly to the Millennials who are so different to the majority playing golf now but need to be captured for the future.

Food for thought for the New Year!