US Golf Equipment sales in the first half of 2017 are in the books, and while the results in total are less than ideal, there are some bright spots and trends underway which suggest the business remains soundly grounded, including soaring Average Selling Prices on new product and the rebirth of the traditional Green Grass channel.
As the Off Course Specialty channel continues to find its footing in the post Golfsmith world, the grass is definitely greener in Green Grass Shops as golfers seek out new equipment in a channel many had previously abandoned. Without easy access to demo clubs and custom fitting opportunities due to Off Course “Deserts” (large geographic areas without appropriate Off Course Specialty coverage once existed but is now lost), golfers are heading back to the pro shop and buying more frequently from their long-lost friend, the Golf Professional.
In total, three of ten product categories showed improved sales in dollars, led by drivers (+3.3% YTD) and golf balls (+3.2%) which are two of the largest categories, with fairway woods (+0.3%) just barely above prior year levels. At the same time, all except golf balls (+1.1%) were down in units.
On the flip side, in the Green Grass, sales of all product categories except for golf shoes are up, and in total On Course Golf Shop sales of equipment are up over 11%, with drivers up 28% and irons up 15%. Clearly the consumer, seeing far fewer traditional Off Course options available to shop and buy, has headed back into their local golf shop to make equipment purchases.
It’s true that many of the Off Course Specialty stores which remain are having a decent year in 2017, as they make inroads in the wake of one of their largest competitors closing. However, the channel in total remains weak as golfers seek to find their rhythm and develop new means to purchase golf equipment. And Online sales continue to grow, though many are done thru sites which are owned/operated by traditional Brick and Mortar operators so isolating online sales is trickier than in many other consumer categories.
Where else are former Golfsmith customers going to buy golf equipment? How has Sporting Goods fared? What product categories are selling best online? For those answers and more, look for future posts re: Golf Datatech’s newest market defining study, “2017 Shopping and Buying Habits of the Serious Golfer”, which was recently released. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase a copy for yourself.