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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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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Market Update: October 2017

As we find ourselves in the depths of winter, it’s time to reflect on how the market performed in October, before sales start to drop off significantly.

October is often an unpredictable month. Usually the 7th largest of the year with around 8.3% of annual sales, and it can throw up some funny results. Some years, we see an “Indian Summer”, with extended periods of play. And on the other hand we could see an early start to the winter. It’s also a time when some brands launch new products but other retailers start major clearance. Needless to say it can throw out some spiky numbers.

So how did it go this year?

In the main, pretty bad compared to 2016. Overall sales value is 10.1% down on 2016 with some categories taking a significant drop. Looking at the overall breakdowns, the off-course clubs group was hit the hardest – seeing a 28.9% drop. In contrast, the on-course group saw a 13.7% increase. Other categories have not fared quite as well. Apparel, consumables and other categories are all down between 5.8% and 21.2%, both on- and off-course. The only category (outside of clubs) that is doing ok is light durables – held up by a strong showing from on course shoes.

October 2017 value change table

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Market Update – End of Summer 2017

I am a little behind this month but thought it important to get another market update out to comment on what happened at the end of summer (August data). I will be doing another one at the end of the month so will keep this short and sweet, here goes. 

August was a big month, and looks like it will be the second biggest of the year, with more than 10% of annual sales falling in the last month of the Summer holidays.

Initially, the stats look a little confusing. Overall market value is up 12.1% versus 2016. However there is a big difference On-, and Off-course this month, and not all categories are up. Also, On-course ball volumes – a good indicator of participation – were down this month -1.1% , which usually indicates that there might be some fall in sales.

So what happened in the key categories?

August 2017 Category Value change

Well, On-course was up across the board. Clubs were up a staggering 29.8% while consumables were up a mere 4.4%. Off-course saw some gains – up 3.7% overall and 5.9% in Clubs. However Apparel was down -12.5% and consumables -2.8%.

The other interesting point is that On-course Outerwear was up 27.6% in units. So I think we can assume that those golfers that did play, needed some weather protection. 

Why are clubs up so much On-course?

Long and short of it, the On-course has really benefited from the recent Ping Launch of the G400. Perhaps we should call this the “Ping effect” or, with the current model, nomenclature the “G Effect”. I talked about this a couple of years ago with the G series and history has repeated itself. It looks like some pent-up spending has been unleashed and while the customers were in the shop they have bought clothing and other items as well. This has to be the main reason for the huge spike in sales, as weather and participation would appear to have been poor – so customers needed a reason to get to the shops.

Crazy stat!

I don’t usually pick out any specific products but the G400 is an interesting story this month. Looking at the raw data for every £100 spent in the On- and Off-course speciality golf shops, £8 was spent on either a G400 iron or a G400 wood – WOW that’s some launch!

So how did this effect the general mix of sales?

General mix is similar to other months. However, woods and irons have both taken a bigger share of the spend this month, with hardware accounting for 42% of sales versus 38% in June, and 39.5% in August last year.

2017 Value mix - August

Overall sales were up in 13 or 17 categories. Shirts collectively were the biggest looser along with men’s bottoms and distance devices. It appears that the spend on big ticket woods and irons pulled attention away from the higher value tech products.

August 2017 Value change

So was all this growth just from ASP (like most of this year)?

ASP is well up across the board with huge gains in woods trolleys and irons. However most of the clothing categories are pretty static with a year ago.

August 2017 ASP change

High ASP’s might be hurting distance devices. They are well down in units, but otherwise most unit sales are middling to flat, (except the obvious apparel that’s been hit by the weather). Woods were down slightly this month which is better than previous months. Irons were actually up even with the 18% increase in price.

August 2017 Unit change

How does this look for the rest of the year?

Well, the trend is pretty well set this year for solid growth. Previously I was calling between 8 and 10% and this is looking pretty safe. One of the key determinants was how well the product launches from the key brands went in H2. Ping has obviously done very well and Titleist have also made up some ground. Looking at this momentum double digit growth year on year is well on the cards.

Sales growth v last year.

Value trend Agust YTD 2017

Next month the picture will be a bit clearer and we can see if the trends continue with strong On course sales.