What a wild ride it’s been.
January was another big month for Golf Equipment Sales in the United States according to Golf Datatech’s latest data which was released on February 18, with total sales improving by 43%. Wedges surged over 60%, while irons and bags both jumped 57%, distance devices were up 51%, woods +45%, and golf balls +39%. Even categories that grew significantly slower than total equipment enjoyed substantial improvements, with putters (+29%), gloves (+22%) and footwear (+17%) all improving at levels that would normally be headline material.
Total Golf Equipment Sales* in the United States improved in 15 of the last 19 months, however the months with declines were severe, falling by as much as 75% in April of 2020, when most of the US was in a lockdown, golf courses were shut, and very few retail options other than online, existed. Once the momentum flipped in July of 2020, sales surged, improving by more than 30% in 5 of the past 7 months.
So, when does this roller coaster ride stop?
Inevitably, the rapid expansion in consumer demand for golf equipment will slow down, but when? Probably not anytime soon, at least not when comparing to prior year. February 2021 features a significant amount of exciting new products hitting the market, even as much of the country battles thru a difficult month weather wise. But the markets that are traditionally open for golf in the dead of winter remained relatively unscathed by the extreme cold and snow. March thru May of 2021 will comp against some extremely depressed sales numbers from last year, so the first real test likely won’t occur until June or July. From that point onward, the mountain of consumer demand from 2020 will be a substantial foe.
For most golf equipment brands it’s important to maintain perspective. In the short run we’ll see huge improvements over 2020, and it could be easy to become over exuberant. Don’t do it.
And when the unavoidable slow down in total industry sales hits toward the back of 2021, nay sayers will quickly point to the “demise of golf”. Don’t believe them.
Like most things in life, the truth will lie somewhere between the polar extremes.
*Total Equipment Sales= Retail Sell Thru of products thru the Green Grass, Off Course Specialty, and Specialty Online Golf Retailers. Product lines include: Golf Balls, Drivers, Fairways, Hybrids, Iron Sets, Wedges, Putters, Bags, Shoes, Gloves and Distance Devices