An annual survey by Sporting Goods Intellligence shows that the growth of the global sports equipment market slowed down to 2.9 percent in 2006 from 4.9 percent in the previous year, reaching a value of $57.1 billion at wholesale, partly due to a stagnant golf market and a lack of real product innovation. Although the World Cup of football gave a major boost to the demand for football equipment, the lack of new products in golf, winter, outdoor and team sports resulted in a drop in sales of new equipment in these categories.

While the U.S. market grew by 5.3 percent to $24.8 billion, the market elsewhere in the world increased by only 1.2 percent (see chart on page 3).

The major brands gained market shares as they collectively grew by 6.1 percent, compared with a 1.4 percent for other brands. The top 20 equipment brands control 34.7 percent of the market, which is less than the top 20 for apparel or footwear. Their market shares in these two categories stand at 39.0 percent and 95.8 percent, respectively.

There was no major acquisition in this segment during 2006 like Adidas’ sale of Salomon to Amer Sports, but the new combination of K2, Pure Fishing and Coleman under the roof of Jarden Corp will make a difference. In 2006, these companies would have formed the largest sports equipment group with revenues exceeding $2.1 billion compared with Amer’s total of $2.0 billion, excluding Salomon and K2 apparel and footwear.

No major increase is expected in this market for 2007. In golf, the new square-headed drivers have made a modest impact, while the lack of snow earlier this year has reduced the sell-in for winter sports equipment by more than 20 percent.