The total revenues of the largest sporting goods retailers around the world eked out a slight increase of one percent in 2020 - both in dollars and in local currencies – going up to a level of $106.7 billion. Like the global sports market, which was flat at $508 million including bikes, according to NPD, their combined revenues suffered a sharp deceleration from 2019’s growth of 7 percent, largely due to Covid-19.
On the other hand, the pandemic year saw big winners and big losers, largely based on who was best positioned to keep selling via digital channels when its stores were closed. For some of them, acquisitions boosted their sales in a market that is getting more concentrated, partly in response to a trend among some big and small brands to sell their products directly to consumers. Sales would have declined at the Russian Sportmaster Group, for example, without its recent acquisitions in Poland and Denmark. Conversely, the French Go Sport Group and the Belgian-based A.S. Adventure Group would have lost fewer sales without their recent divestitures.
Our annual rankings of the world’s largest sporting goods retailers focuses on those whose primary business is in sports products. It excludes cooperatives of independent retailers and general merchandise chains like Walmart, which an important place in the sector. In many cases, we are able to get public figures, though for private companies we often rely on input from management or develop estimates based on changes in store count and comparable store sales figures of similar retailers, among others. All data are collected in local currencies for the financial year ended nearest to Dec. 31 unless otherwise specified and then translated into U.S. dollars for the rankings, based on the average exchange rates calculated by the OECD for the year. All percentage comparisons are in local currencies.
Lululemon is becoming more international
The sporting goods market is becoming more global than ever, with many of the larger retailers operating in multiple regions and in multiple currencies, so for the sake of consistency, we treat these multinational chains as being from the country where their corporate headquarters is located. In addition to long-time international players like Decathlon and Foot Locker, the two British multi-banner retailers, JD Sports Fashion and Frasers Group, have both grown their holdings overseas lately. Lululemon and Fanatics are also becoming more international. Genesco has a presence in the U.K. with Schuh, while Zumiez is in Europe with Blue Tomato and in Australia with Fast Times.
Decathlon still most successful sports retailer worldwide
Despite its sales decline of 7 percent, Decathlon remained comfortably first on the leaderboard, followed by Dick’s Sporting Goods, and JD Sports jumped ahead of Foot Locker by a small margin last year, thanks in particular to acquisitions. Cherished by the big sports brands, both of these retailers have been very active lately on the M&A front in recent months.
The combination of Bass Pro and Cabela’s remained in fifth place, and Academy Sports moved up to the sixth spot, both benefitting from surging demand for outdoor sports gear during the pandemic. Twenty-five retailers were over $1 billion, one more than in 2019, with Sportsman’s Warehouse, Big 5 and Dunham’s joining the 10-digit club, and Zumiez just missing the cutoff last year. As the U.S. remains the biggest sporting goods market in the world by far, the Americas had 14 retailers exceeding $1 billion, Europe had six and Asia had five. Retailers located in emerging markets posted a rare aggregate decline last year, falling by 5 percent, while their first-world counterparts grew by more than 1 percent.
Sporting goods retailers in Europe
Europe was the worst-performing region in 2020, with retailers based there seeing their sales drop by 5 percent to $34.1 billion after a standout 12 percent gain the year before. Most European retailers finished the year down due to strict and extended store closures imposed by local governments in response to Covid. Thanks largely to a spectacular clearance, Norway’s XXL was an exception, turning in double-digit growth for the year. In contrast with its arch-rival Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct, JD Sports also posted a double-digit increase, helped by its growing sales in the U.S.
Sport Holding emerged as a major new Norwegian player formed from the merger of Intersport’s local licensee, Gresvig, with Sport 1. Signa Retail, whose 2019 figure has been restated, is the combination of Signa Sports United (Tennis-Point etc.), whose online operations grew strongly last year, with the Karstadt Sports and SportScheck chains in Germany, whose sales shrank. Frilufts groups all the retail operations of Fenix Outdoor, including Globetrotter and Naturkompaniet.
From next year onwards we will also include Intersport Group in the global analysis. Intersport Group realized $11.7 billion in revenues in 2020, putting them on rank 2 of the global ranking (-13% decline in revenues in local currenvies vs 2019).
Sports retailers in the U.S. with strongest revenue growth
Retailers based in the Americas region posted the strongest growth last year, rising by 4 percent to $56,135 million, actually accelerating from their 3 percent gain in 2019. The U.S., which accounts for most of their revenues, benefitted from shorter and less stringent Covid closures than the rest of the world. Retailers that sold a broader selection of merchandise were often allowed to remain open as “essential” during the Covid shutdowns, while malls and sportswear stores were forced to close. Furthermore, well-established e-commerce capabilities combined there with a broad adoption of innovations like Click&Collect and parking-lot pick-ups to keep sales flowing.
Dick’s, Bass Pro, Academy, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Hibbett and Big 5 all grew at double-digit rates in 2020, while mall- and softgoods-focused retailers like Foot Locker and Genesco declined. Lululemon managed to buck the trend with its strong omnichannel capabilities and an apparel assortment that was very suitable for consumers seeking work-from-home comfort. The liquidation sales of the bankrupt Modell’s chain marked its final appearance on this table.
Asian sports retailers hit by lockdown
Following a strong growth of 12 percent in 2019, Asian retailers were hit by stringent lockdowns, first in China, then in Japan, Indonesia and Australia, though many countries escaped the pandemic with minimal impact. Total sales in the region were up 1 percent to $16.5 billion. The two down-under retailers, Super Retail Group and Kathmandu, thrived. In Japan, Himaraya and Alpen raised their sales, while Xebio faltered. In Mainland China, the two mega-retailers of western brands, Topsports and Pou Sheng, had mixed results, with the former up and the latter declining. Vertical Chinese brands like Anta and Li Ning are not included in our chart, but they posted strong gains after the country reopened.
List of most important sporting goods retailers worldwide
|The Largest Sporting Goods Retailers In the World|
|Revenues in||Revenues in Millions|
|Millions US Dollars||Local||Local Currency (no Sales or VAT)|
|2||Dick’s Sporting Goods||USA||$9,584||$8,751||USD||9,584||8,751||10%|
|3||JD Sports Fashion (1) (2)||U.K.||$7,906||$7,795||GBP||6,167||6,111||1%|
|4||Foot Locker (1)||USA||$7,548||$8,005||USD||7,548||8,005||-6%|
|5||Bass Pro Shops||USA||$7,300||$6,500||USD||7,300||6,500||12%|
|10||Frasers Group (1) (2)||U.K.||$3,508||$3,922||GBP||2,736||3,075||-11%|
|13||Canadian Tire/FGL Sports (2)||Canada||$2,449||$2,485||CAD||3,284||3,297||0%|
|16||Xebio (incl. Victoria)||Japan||$1,895||$2,067||JPY||202,438||225,312||-10%|
|19||Super Retail Group (Spts/Outdr) (3)||Australia||$1,477||$1,186||AUD||2,148||1,706||26%|
|22||Signa Retail Group (1) (2)||Germany||$1,210||$1,142||EURO||1,062||1,020||4%|
|23||XXL Sport (1)||Norway||$1,107||$1,022||NOK||10,423||8,992||16%|
|24||Big 5 Sporting Goods||USA||$1,041||$997||USD||1,041||997||4%|
|28||Sport Holding (A)||Norway||$721||$778||NOK||6,789||6,848||-1%|
|30||El Corte Inglés (1) (2)||Spain||$666||$605||EURO||585||540||8%|
|33||Groupe Go Sport (1) (5)||France||$576||$750||EURO||506||670||-24%|
|36||Kathmandu Holdings (1) (6)||New Zealand||$548||$489||NZD||844||742||14%|
|37||Hervis Sport (1)||Austria||$535||$574||EURO||470||513||-8%|
|39||Cisalfa Sport (A)||Italy||$500||$605||EURO||439||540||-19%|
|40||A.S. Adventure Group (1)||Belgium||$487||$676||EURO||428||604||-29%|
|46||Frilufts (including Globetrotter) (1)||Germany||$301||$316||EURO||264||282||-6%|
|49||Swire Group||Hong Kong||$255||$398||HKD||1,973||3,113||-37%|
|50||Vail Resorts (Retail/Rental) (7)||USA||$228||$270||USD||228||270||-16%|
|$106,753||$106,036||Weighted Change in Local Currency||1%|
|Notes:||All data is for FY ended closest to Dec 31, 2020.|
|(1) Also in other countries.||(5) The group no longer includes Courir|
|(2) Sporting goods sales only||(6) For FY ended July 31, 2021.|
|(3) For FY ended Jun. 30, 2021.||(A) Member Intersport buying group|
|(4) For FY ended Aug. 31, 2021.||(B) Member Nation’s Best Sports buying group|
|Currency Conversions (OECD rates)|
|2020||AUD1.454$; BRL5.155/$; CAD1.341/$; CHF.939/$; DKK6.542/$; EUR.878/$; GBP.780/$; HKD7.750/$;|
|IDR14582/$; JPY106.8/$; NOK9.413/$; NZD1.541/$; RMB6.901/$; RUB72.11/$; SEK9.210/$; THB31.25/$|
|2019||AUD1.439/$; BRL3.927/$; CAD1.327/$; CHF.994/$; DKK6.669/$; EUR.893/$; GBP.784/$; HKD7.830/$;|
|IDR14148/$; JPY109.0/$; NOK8.80/$; NZD1.518/$; RMB6.908/$; RUB64.74/$; SEK9.456/$; THB30.89/$|