The Covid-related retail lockdowns caused major declines in the consumption of sporting goods in many European countries, particularly in Central and Southern Europe, and in the performance of some major sporting goods retailers in 2020, with wide differences from one to the other. Our annual study of the sports retail market in Western Europe shows that only 16 out of 64 leading sports retailers operating in 15 European countries didn’t suffer a sales decline in 2020. Those that had developed a multi-channel operation weathered the lockdowns better than the others.

Based on our estimates, the market dropped by 5.3 percent to a total of about €63.8 billion in terms of consumption in those countries, with a decline of 5.0 percent in local currencies. However, the retailers whom we interviewed gave strong indications that the situation improved considerably in 2021, probably resulting in a high single-digit or a low double-digit growth rate for this year, in spite of some year-end product shortages for footwear, bikes and other products. The size of the total European market was probably close to €100 million including other countries in Eastern Europe and Russia.

The 5 percent drop in the region is not surprising, as the retail lockdowns were particularly severe in Europe. The NPD Group calculated that the global market remained flat at an estimated level of €429 billion in 2020, and that it would have fallen by 4 percent excluding bicycles. We cover sports bikes in our study, but not bikes used for urban transportation.

Decathlon and Intersport, which are also the leading sporting goods retailers at the global level, came out among the leaders in most of the countries covered by this study, which analyzes the retailers’ performance country by country. We didn’t cover Intersport International in our previously published study of the major retailers around the world because it is a voluntary group - a form of retailing that is not common in the U.S. and some other parts of the world - but it would have come right after Decathlon in the global rankings with a retail turnover of €10.6 billion including VAT.

We are fortunate that the majority of the retailers covered by this study volunteered some of their figures for last year, especially those about the growth or decline in their business in certain countries, thanks to the good relations that we have established with them. The actual retail figures – including or excluding VAT - may not always be accurate, especially those that we publish here for the retail members of voluntary groups like Intersport or Sport 2000. In some cases, we had to guess increases or declines based on changes in the number of stores.

In Germany, the figures given for the highly secretive Signa Retail Group are very much of a guess. They include the sales of the downsized Karstadt Sports chain and SportScheck, plus an estimated breakdown for the German market for the figures published for Signa Sports United, the international e-tailer that owns Tennis-Point and many other sports websites. We hope that they will be more cooperative in the future.

It’s been harder than ever to determine the size and evolution of the market in each of the countries in the absence of accurate and homogeneous statistics for some of them, due in part to the increasing role being played by generalist online retailers like Amazon or Zalando, and by the sports brands’ direct-to-consumer operations. In some cases where we obtained new input from market research agencies, trade associations, business publications, local experts and other sources, we have restated the market size figures that we had published for 2019.

Based on the available industry estimates, Sweden and Norway were the only countries that enjoyed some growth, largely because of fewer restrictions on the operations of brick-and-mortar retailers. In Norway, the market where per capita consumption of sporting goods is still the highest, XXL benefitted from a massive clearance program and Intersport’s licensee, Gresvig, merged with Sport 1 in the course of the year, after shelving the G-Sport banner. We have restated the rather official figure given for Norway by the local trade association, which includes estimates for the online channel and the brands’ own retail sales, eliminating those of bicycles used for transportation, although sports retailers in the country are responsible for about 80 percent of all bike sales.

Like before, we exclude bicycles used primarily for transportation from our definition of the sporting goods market, as this segment has been traditionally served primarily by specialist bike dealers in some of the countries. With cycling being chosen as a safe alternative to public transportation, the bike market grew in Europe last year by 40 percent to €18.3 billion, according to the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (Conebi), due in large part to a 42 percent increase in sales of electrically assisted bicycles, which are mainly used for commuting. In Germany, where independent bike dealers represent 70 percent of the bike market, sales of all kinds of bicycles rose by 60 percent to €5 billion. Some of them were racing or mountain bikes that would fit into our definition, however.

Bike sales went up by more than 30 percent in Spain, but we understand that sports bikes were a major component of the market. In the Netherlands, where the bike market reached a record level of €1.65 billion, driven by e-bikes, the sporting goods market fell by more than 20 percent if we exclude all kinds of bicycles. Conversely, the market would have been more or less flat in Denmark if we include all kinds of bicycles.

Looking at the five major European countries where NPD conducts a rather accurate consumer panel that covers all channels of distribution for sports apparel and footwear, the market for these types of products fell by 4 percent in Germany, by 7 percent in France, by 10 percent in the U.K., by 12 percent in Spain and by 18 percent in Italy. The market figures that we have adopted for these countries show lower rates of decline because they also include estimates for all kinds of sports equipment including sports bikes and fitness equipment, whose sales went up during the pandemic.

THE EUROPEAN SPORTS RETAIL MARKET IN 2020
    © SGI Europe  
    2020 before VAT (million €) Market Share
2019
VAT rate 2020      after VAT (million €) % Change vs. 2019
Germany Intersport (1)  2,072 17% 19% 2,940 -16.0%
Sport 2000 (2)  1,742 14%   2,151 -8.4%
Signa Retail Group (D) (est)    830 7%   988 -15.3%
Decathlon  667 5%   794 1.2%
Globetrotter  148 1%   176 -14.1%
MARKET SIZE  12,202     14,520 -3.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       175  
France Decathlon ( c ) (*)   3,040 35% 20% 3,648 -6.0%
Intersport (1)   1,904 22%   2,285 -5.0%
Sport 2000 (2)     436 5%   523 -19.0%
Go Sport (est)   334 4%   401 -12.0%
MARKET SIZE  8,689     10,426 -5.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       161  
Italy Decathlon (*)  1,169 20% 22% 1,426 -11.0%
Intersport (1), incl Cisalfa   780 13%   951 -21.0%
Cisalfa Sport, excl. Intersport (f)    366 6%   447 -18.8%
Sport Alliance (2) (v) (restated) 360 6%   439 -8.4%
MARKET SIZE (restated)   5,840     7,125 -12.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       118  
Spain Decathlon ( c ) (*)   1,526 29% 21% 1,846 -11.0%
Iberian Sports Retail Group (g)   490 9%   593 -17.1%
El Corte Inglés (D) (est)   466 9%   564 -9.9%
Base Detall Sport (V)  176 3%   223 -23.1%
Intersport (1)  169 3%   214 -25.4%
Forum Sport ( c )  103 2%   130 -13.4%
Trendico (V)  95 2%   120 -5.1%
MARKET SIZE   5,175     6,262 -6.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       132  
Austria Sport 2000 (2) (*)  490 27% 20% 579 1.6%
Intersport (1) (*) 440 24%   527 -11.4%
Hervis (est)     313 17%   376 -3.0%
Sports Direct ( c ) (est)  62 3%   74 -8.8%
MARKET SIZE   1,818     2,182 -9.2%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       245  
Finland Kesko / Intersport (1) (restated) (est)  244 26% 24% 303 -3.0%
XXL   195 21%   241 10.0%
Stadium (*)  145 16%   180 13.3%
Luhta-Sport    38 4%   47 -20.8%
Sportia / SGN Group (2)   25 3%   31 -8.0%
MARKET SIZE   930     1,153 0.1%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       209  
Netherlands Euretco (D) (1)   254 26% 21% 308 -13.0%
Decathlon (est)   260 27%   315 5.0%
Sport 2000 (2) (h) (restated) 59 6%   72 -10.0%
MARKET SIZE  (restated)    960     1,162 -15.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       67  
Belgium Decathlon (*)  410 56% 21% 496 -10.0%
Sports Direct ( c ) (est)  97 13%   117 -3.0%
Intersport (1)   19 3%   23 19.0%
Sport 2000 (h)   14 2%   20 -19.0%
MARKET SIZE    727     920 -6.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       80  
Portugal Decathlon (c ) (est) (*)  243 43% 23% 299 -0.5%
Iberian Sports Retail Group (g) (*) (est)   190 34%   234 -10.0%
MARKET SIZE   559     687 -20.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       67  
R. of Ireland JD Sports Fashion (est) (restated) 157 22% 23% 193 -2.0%
Sports Direct (est)  119 17%   146 10.0%
Lifestyle Sports 92 13%   113 -5.0%
Elverys (est)    77 11%   95 -20.0%
Stag (V)    55 8%   67 -21.0%
MARKET SIZE (restated)    700     861 -12.0%
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       175  
THE EUROPEAN SPORTS RETAIL MARKET IN 2020 (continued)
                                                                                           © SGI Europe      
                     
NON-EURO ZONE 2020 before VAT (million €) Market Share VAT rate 2020 after VAT (million euros) % Change vs. 2019   2020 before VAT (million local currency) 2020 after VAT (million local currency)
            Euros Local currency      
United Kingdom JD Sports Fashion (*)  2,390 31% 20% 2,868 -4.0% -2.8%   2,125 2,550
Sports Direct (2) (*) 2,214 29%   2,656 -11.9% -10.7%   1,968 2,362
Stag (v)   260 3%   312 -22.0% -21.0%   231 278
Decathlon (restated)   252 3%   302 10.0% -1.6%   224 269
MARKET SIZE  (restated)  7,699     9,624 -8.2% -7.0%   6,845 8,556
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       144          
Sweden Stadium ( c ) (*)   445 17% 25% 556 -12.7% -13.6%   4,659 5,824
XXL (*)   278 10%   347 14.9% 16.2%   2,909 3,636
SGN Group (2)  270 10%   337 2.0% 1.0%   2,828 3,535
Intersport (1) (est)   235 9%   294 -14.0% -12.0%   2,311 3,081
Sportshopen (restated)   65 2%   81 2.4% 1.3%   683 854
Naturkompaniet     64 2%   80 6.4% 5.3%   671 839
MARKET SIZE   2,650     3,313 1.1% 0.1%   27,772 34,715
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       321          
Switzerland Ochsner (D)   389 17% 8% 420 -0.9% -4.6%   416 449
Intersport PSC (1) (est)  340 15%   367 -0.3% -4.0%   364 393
Sport XX (D)   295 13%   326 0.7% -3.1%   316 341
Decathlon   177 8%   191 27.1% 22.0%   189 204
MARKET SIZE    2,227     2,405 6.1% -1.0%   2,384 2,574
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       280          
Norway XXL ( c ) (*)   466 26% 25% 582 15.1% 20.1%   4,987 6,234
Sport 1 (v)   281 15%   352 28.9% 28.6%   3,011 3,764
G Sport / Intersport    126 7%   157 -25.2% -23.0%   1,347 1,684
Stadion (v)    75 4%   93 6.0% 13.2%   800 1,000
MARKET SIZE (restated)  1,824     2,279 14.1% 14.0%   18,300 24,400
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       428          
Denmark Sport 24 (est)  230 32% 25% 288 1.2% 1.0%   1,717 2,146
Sportmaster (2)  116 16%   145 -24.2% -20.0%   864 1,080
Intersport (1) (est)   90 12%   113 -20.9% -21.0%   671 839
MARKET SIZE    722     902 -14.9% -15.0%   5,381 6,726
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       155          
  TOTAL EUROPEAN MARKET 52,798 -   63,916 -3.6% -3.3%   - -
  AVERAGE EUROPEAN PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (€)       156          
                     
  (1) Affiliated with Intersport International / (2) Affiliated with Sport 2000 International               
  ( c ) Independent Chain / (D) Sporting goods only / (V) - Voluntary Chain - (est) estimate              
  (f) Included in Intersport’s sales in the country (*) National sales - trading also in other countries            
  (g) The new Iberian Sports Retail Group includes JD Sports, Sprinter and Sport Zone              
  (h) Includes Fair Play