According to preliminary figures, retail sales of sporting goods declined more or less by 0.7 percent in Sweden and by 0.3 percent in 2019, compared with a drop of 3.5 percent in Norway. 

The figures for the fourth quarter of the year indicate declines of 4.2 percent in Sweden and 5.2 percent in Finland, compared with a loss of 4.3 percent in Norway, largely because of the unseasonably warm weather throughout the Nordic countries.

Nevertheless, the two major sporting goods retailers in Sweden and Finland, Stadium and Kesko, scored relatively better than Gresvig and XXL based on their latest figures. While it is not a public company, the Swedish-based Stadium Group, which generates most of its revenues in its domestic market, has reported an increase in its total revenues of almost 10 percent to 6.1 billion Swedish kronor (€577m-$632m) for its latest financial year, which ended on Aug. 31.

Comparable store sales went up by 2 percent. The strongest increases were recorded in its low-priced Stadium Outlet chain – now moving also into Norway – as well as in e-commerce. Thanks to cost efficiencies and improved processes, the operating profit went up to SEK 133 million (€12.6m-$13.8m) from SEK 105 million in the prior year.

Stadium operates also in Finland and Germany, where it has been losing money, but it has closed two of its three stores in Germany. The group had previously pulled out of the Danish market. Meanwhile, Stadium has announced that the family of its founder, Bo Eklöf, has again become its sole owner after buying back a 27 percent stake that had been taken over by Ikano, the investment company of Ikea.

Decathlon, which has stayed away from the highly competitive Norwegian market, is not doing well in Sweden, according to local sources. On the other hand, well-informed sources indicate that Intersport has managed to stabilize its business in Sweden, after weak performance in previous years.

Intersport performed well in Finland last year, according to its local master franchisee, Kesko. In spite of the bad winter conditions, Intersport Finland recorded a sales decline of only 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, and its sales went up on a same-store basis. Furthermore, Intersport Finland had the best operating profit in a decade during the past year.

No specific figures were given for Kesko’s overall sports retail operations, which also include Budget Sport and The Athlete’s Foot, but they are said to have performed well also. The Kesko group, which is also involved in many other sectors, made a record pre-tax profit last year of €403.3 million on revenues of €10.7 billion, with an adjusted operating margin of 4.3 percent.