Golf Apparel Struggles to Begin 2021, Green Grass Wrestles with Tough Comps, Off Course Soars According to Golf Datatech’s Data

January 2021 Had Issues…But Compared to a typical January it wasn’t bad

Is the Glass Half Full? Or Half Empty? Depending upon your perspective, you might see the January results in Golf Apparel very differently.

Mixed News for January

If you are in the Half Empty camp, you might be concerned that Golf Apparel Sales were down almost 9% vs. last January. However if you are more of an optimist, it’s worth noting that January of 2020 was the largest first month of the year since Golf Datatech started tracking sales for the category in 2010, and even with the current decline, 2021 sales are 4% higher than January of 2019. And we are headed into a period when apparel sales, like many categories in the United States, will comp against very low prior year sales due to the impact of retail closures and an unsure economy.

Positive Trending in the last half of 2020

Over the last 6 months of 2020, Golf Apparel sales were up over 6% in dollars, led by the Off Course Specialty/Online Golf Specialty segment, +30%. During that same six month period, Green Grass sales of Golf Apparel, which is by far the largest piece of the market, was level.

Shift to Online

Online sales of Golf Apparel soared in 2020 and continue to do so early in 2021, however there is every reason to believe that once Pro Shops reopen and restock with new lines, including apparel featuring club logos, the Pro Shop business will come back strong.

Resorts Need Travel

While many resorts successfully filled tee times and stopped some of the bleeding from travel restrictions by focusing on local players, the golf apparel component need high roller consumers to come play golf, stay in hotels, spend in pro shops, and buy golf shirts and tops featuring their logo. If the country can rebound and steer clear of further shutdowns/travel restrictions, this crucial piece of the golf apparel economy should rebound significantly.

Golf Apparel Direction in 2021

As we look toward 2021, there are many reasons for positivity surrounding golf apparel. If life can return to some kind of normalcy, retailers safely open to more customers, golf courses remain busy, and people once again travel, there’s every reason to believe Golf Apparel could be on the cusp of an upswing.

Golfers continue to have significant discretionary dollars available to spend on the sport, in fact several pieces of Golf Datatech research in 2020 suggested this segment has significant “dry powder” available to spend in 2021, largely due to higher asset values and fewer places to spend money in 2020 (house prices up substantially, stock market at all time highs, less spending on vacations, dining out, etc. in 2020).

Where 2021 ends will depend on many forces we can’t knowingly predict at this point (vaccine roll out, virus mutations, etc.), however as the year sets up, there are good reasons to think it should be an improvement over 2020.

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