By courtesy from the NPD Group, which is developing new market research services in the sporting goods sector to suit the needs of all kinds of companies, we are publishing here the general figures that it has compiled for the sports footwear and apparel markets of the five major European countries in 2008 through its new online consumer panel.

As the figures are not quite comparable with those of 2007, which were partly based on a different kind of panel and on a different and broader definition of the market for these products, the percentage variations that we are showing here are based on the figures collected for the last nine months of each year.

The comparison shows that the total sports shoe market fell in the last nine months of 2008 by 4.2 percent in value and by 2.9 percent in volume in the five countries analyzed by its NPD Sports Tracking Europe service.

Sports clothing fared even worse, with declines of 7.4 percent in value and 5.9 percent in volume. For the full year, the average retail price of a pair of sports shoes dropped by 1.3 percent to €44.35, while a unit of sports garment cost the consumer 1.5 percent less, or €26.19.

Sales declines were recorded for both kinds of products in each of the five European markets with the single exception of Italy, where sales of sports shoes rose by 2.5 percent in volume only, while receding by 0.8 percent in value. Average prices held up for shoes in Germany and for apparel in Germany and France.

The biggest drops in value and volume were recorded in the U.K., which remains the biggest market for these products. Sales of sports shoes fell in the U.K. by 7.8 percent in value and by 5.6 percent in volume, reaching a level of 191.9 million pairs worth €2,196 million for the full year. British sales of sports clothing plunged by 9.5 percent in value to €3,267 million, while the number of units decreased by 7.3 percent to 545.4 million.

Britain was also the market with the lowest price per item in apparel, but the average price for footwear was lower in Spain.

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