A few days before the start of Ispo Munich, the event's organizers, Messe München, brought together leading personalities of the European sporting goods industry at a press conference to discuss trends and prospects. Werner Haizmann, president of Fedas, the European retailers' federation, pointed out that sales trends strongly varied from one region to the other across the continent in 2012.

While Germany achieved a healthy sales gain, sporting goods retailers in southern Europe suffered sharp declines, in spite of the European football championships and the London Olympics held last summer. Retail sales of sporting goods increased by an estimated 3 percent in Russia and by 2.5 percent in Poland, one of the Euro Cup's two host countries. Altogether, Fedas estimates that the European sporting goods market decreased by about 6 percent to €38.2 billion at the retail level (our estimates for market size are higher).

Haizmann is cautiously optimistic that the sector may recover this year. However, Haizmann said, the macroeconomic factors will continue to influence the environment of consumption and the general evolution of sporting goods retailing. Among those factors are the high unemployment rates among young people in many European countries, the reduced spending of the governments and only moderate wage increases – if any.

Frank Dassler, president of Fesi, the association of European sporting goods manufacturers, was more upbeat: He pointed out that across Europe alone, suppliers lifted their sales by nearly 4.5 percent in 2012. Tobias Gröber, head of the consumer goods division at Messe München, saw further opportunities for growth in partnership with the health sector. The focus on health at the upcoming show will be highlighted by the second edition of the Ispo Health Forum, which will take place on Monday at the ICM convention center, right next to the fairground, featuring many high-level speakers. Additionally, there will be a special show within the show dedicated to 16 new exhibitors from the health sector.