By John Krzynowek, Global Golf Post/Biz
Every other year, Golf Datatech partners with Yano Research Institute of Japan to compile and publish the World Golf Report, estimating and analyzing the size and composition of various golf markets around the world. Following are some key insights from the 2023 Report covering the happenings around the world in golf retail, specifically targeting golf equipment and apparel.
Anyone who works in or around golf in the United States is familiar with the boom enjoyed domestically in 2020 and ’21, before slowing and declining slightly in ’22. Not only did golf retail sales surge to all time-highs in 2021, but we also came close to holding those highs in ’22, despite supply chain issues that dampened the ability to meet demand during the first nine months of the year. While 2022 U.S. retail sales fell slightly in both equipment and apparel, the overall business remains extremely healthy, almost 45 percent higher than it was in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.
However, the objective of the World Golf Report is to look beyond just the borders of the United States, providing a broader perspective on how retail sales of golf equipment and apparel are performing on an international basis. And while the game itself is on solid footing around the world, the business of selling golf products has had its ups and downs, depending upon where you live, because of several factors beyond the control of golf. Macroeconomic issues, currency exchange rates, societal/governmental approaches to managing the pandemic, plus the outbreak of war in Ukraine, all created some level of headwind over the past few years, and the impact of those headwinds varied depending upon where you lived and worked.
Looking at total sales of golf equipment and apparel on a worldwide basis, one can see the massive expansion in golf retail from 2019 ($14.9 billion) to the most recent year ($20.0 billion), an increase of over 34 percent, or $5 billion.
The popularity of golf soared around the world since 2019, and tee times were hard to come by as courses were flooded by people evading the confinement of the pandemic. Getting out on the course for exercise, fresh air and time with friends filled the tee sheets, and the benefits of additional play frequently translated into substantially higher retail sales of equipment and apparel.
First and foremost, individual regions and countries combatted the spread of COVID in different ways, some closing their borders completely, attempting to defeat the spread by keeping those from other countries out of their own, while others took a more laissez-faire attitude and had far looser rules and regulations. Additionally, several countries kept brick-and-mortar retailers closed for extended periods of time, negatively impacting sales except for those sold online, and since many golf products are trial driven/custom-fit oriented, sales slowed. For those reasons, the ups and downs of the marketplace were not equal across all the various regions of the world, and the World Golf Report highlights those differences in detail.
Beyond COVID-induced declines in sales, many international markets suffered from economic difficulties and associated currency issues, as a particularly strong dollar significantly reduced sales when they were returned to their U.S. parent organizations. As an example, 2022 equipment sales in Japan were up double digits in yen, but when converted to dollars, sales were lower than the prior year.
Looking at total sales of golf equipment and apparel on a worldwide basis (converted into US $) in the graph below, one can see the massive expansion in golf retail from 2019 ($14.9 billion) to the most recent year ($20.0 billion), an increase of over 34 percent, or $5 billion.
Doing a deep dive into the data (which is done within the report), we can see how the growth is not uniform across the various countries, rather it is driven by substantial increases in the United States (+44.5 percent) and Korea (+67.0 percent), the two largest markets for combined golf equipment/apparel sales in the world.
The 2023 World Golf Report includes a mountain of additional data, including unit and value sales by each of the top 10 countries for golf clubs, balls, apparel and other golf equipment, as well as individual country and region sales for every significant golf market around the world.
To get further information about the 2023 World Golf Report, click HERE.