Pointing to the strongly diverging business development for Austrian retailers (depending on location and product range focus), the national Association of Sporting Goods Manufacturers and Suppliers (VSSÖ) provided a first summary for the full year 2020 and the winter season Q4, 2020, and Q1, 2021.
According to the association, total sales of sporting goods retail in 2020 amounted to approximately €2.28 billion (-1 percent year-on-year). Total sales of sporting goods retail in 2020 amounted to approximately €2.28 billion (-1 percent year-on-year). The big drop came in the winter season, with sales plummeting 22.9 percent year-over-year in Q4 2020 and 18.8 percent in Q1 2021.
But business was not bad for all of the retailers surveyed: Particularly the 750 brick-and-mortar stores in ski resorts suffered from a complete loss of the winter season and the absence of tourists. According to VSSÖ, 60 percent of the annual business is generated between December and March. “The government’s economic aid is of considerable importance for the entire industry. Four out of five sporting goods businesses in tourist regions would not have survived the winter without external support. The decisive turning point for these businesses came when the supporting business segment of rental was included in the default bonus,” said Michael Nendwich, spokesman for the sporting goods trade in the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and managing director of the VSSÖ. On the other hand, retailers in urban areas saw high demand for home fitness equipment, bicycles and outdoor sports gear. The bicycle industry achieved a 13 percent increase in sales in 2020. 41 percent of the bicycles sold are e-bikes.
However, the growth in online purchases did not fully compensate for the closure of brick-and-mortar stores. The online share has leveled off at 15 to 20 percent and grew only in single digits even during the pandemic.
Due to the absence of the winter season, sporting goods retailers also saw a 12.8 percent drop in employment - the largest decline of any retail sector in the country. The VSSÖ now pledges for ongoing quick and easy economic support from the Austrian government for the entire industry, even if the outlook for the touristic summer season is relatively optimistic, due to progressing vaccination and fewer travel restrictions.