UK Golf Retail Market Update: May 2018

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


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.

Are all categories up?

Twelve of the 17 tracked categories were up in value, including all of the 6 largest categories – five of which increased by over 16%.

All Hardware was up, and the only areas that have seen any value decline are Tops (men and women), Outerwear and Distance Devices. The fact that Outerwear is down so much,  merely points to nice playing conditions.

Value change May 2018

The split between on- and off-course was highlighted, again, with the off-course still struggling to match last year’s performance.

Was the mix similar this month?

Interestingly, there was a bit of a change with Irons overtaking Woods in value sales. It’s definitely an “Iron year”. Shoes and Balls were battling it out for third spot but, otherwise, the status quo was maintained.

Value Mix May 2018

So the market is up, but is it just the same old story this month as ASP is up?

Not this time. While ASP’s have gone up, May saw an increase in units as well.

Unit change May 2018

This is more good news. We saw 11 of the tracked categories increase in units between 3% to 20%. Only Putters saw a value increase as well as a units decrease. Those categories that saw a value decline saw a similar unit decrease. Trolleys saw the biggest jump, and Outerwear the biggest decline.

Looking at the weather stats, we can see that May received 132% of its average sunshine and only 69% of its usual rain. More importantly, it had nearly 3.5 less rainy days. Based on these stats, and 17% and 22% increase in on-course balls and gloves, it’s fair to say that golfers were out in force on the course.

So what happened to ASP?

Well, ASP has definitely gone up in most categories, versus 2017. Irons – this month’s biggest category, saw the biggest increase – prices up a whopping 19% year on year.

The average price of an iron was £95!

ASP change May 2018

Interestingly, nearly all the smaller categories saw a price drop In fact, 6 of the bottom 7 saw a decline in pricing. This is interesting, as one might assume that lower prices would increase unit sales, but this is clearly not the case.

There are some concerns about Iron and Wood pricing being too expensive. While prices have been on the rise for the last few years, I don’t think it’s a massive problem for the industry. The premium brands invest a lot in their product, in terms of technology and marketing and, as a result, want to charge high prices for their product. However, I don’t believe that it’s making the equipment too expensive for everyone. We are not selling staple foods or fuel – ultimately these are luxury items.

Some people will and others won’t pay these prices. That’s ok. There are plenty of mid-range brands that now have an opportunity to differentiate their products by providing good quality, at more competitive prices.

Whats next?

Well, I was really surprised by how well this month went. It was a record month in terms of weather and sales. In fact, it was the largest single month we have ever recorded since starting the retail audit in the UK over 14 years ago. However I’m still cautious for the rest of the season, and don’t plan to predict big rises.

The World Cup will have an effect, and that usually pulls the sales down. I still think we will end up a bit behind last year. However, let’s hope the weather stays dry and people choose to watch the football after they have played golf.

See you next month.


For more information about Golf Datetech’s retail audit data covering all the key golf categories in the US, UK, Sweden, Germany and France contact Phil at

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