Great start to the year – long may it continue!

The team at Golf Datatech provide details on how the industry ended 2016 and the positive start we have seen in 2017 so far. 

There is a saying, “If you know not where you go any road will take you there.” However, before you can go anywhere in any walk of life, social or business, it’s essential to know from where you are starting. In business terms, it’s an understanding of the market place – where it is now and how it is trending for the future. For the golf industry that’s where Golf Datatech comes into play. We are a world leader in golf industry research. In the UK alone we collect details on an average two million items purchased per month recorded by our EPOS – electronic point of sale – systems at the point of sale.

We are delighted to be working with GOLF RETAILING and each month will be giving details as to how the industry is fairing in these uncertain times caused by our exit from the EEC. Let’s start by seeing where we are and by having a brief look at 2016, which displayed a wide variety of outcomes.

• The first was the marked differences by sector. In overall value terms the market grew by +5.3%, which at first sight is good news but unfortunately only if your outlet was ‘off course’. Their performance showed an increase of +12.5% compared to 2015. On the other hand, ‘on course’ had far less to cheer about as their sales showed a decrease of -0.5%. Market shares changed, with off course increasing from 42% in 2015 to 45% in 2016.

• The second was the marked difference between value and unit sales. Values increased by +5.3% while units decreased by -5.5%. This suggesting that fewer golfers could be buying or purchasing less frequently, a worrying feature.

• The third was the rapid growth in prices, many of which far exceeded general levels of inflation. Six product group prices rose by more than nine percent: balls +9.4%, bags +10.1%, wedges +10.3%, irons +11.5%, woods +19.3% and putters +25.1%. Could this have triggered a level of price resistance and be in part the cause of recent poor unit sales? It is something to consider, particularly when prices may increase further because of exchange rate changes resulting from Brexit.

The good news is that 2016 finished the year on a positive note and 2017 to date has continued the trend in terms of cash in the till. We have now had sixteen months where the moving annual total has moved upward with it now exceeding the peak of May 2012. In unit terms the trend for the last six months has also been upward but it still has a long way to go to match its May 2012 performance.

Year to date figures show good growth at +21.2% for value. The top three star performers were: wedges at +63.9%, putters +54.4% and woods +40.3%. However, hidden within these figures is the fact that off course once again performed the best with a growth of +27.4% partly as a result of strong club sales. This compared with an overall 15.1% growth for on course.

The weather will have influenced these figures. Rainfall, a major deterrent for many golfers, was considerably less than both January and February last year. In fact, January this year was 62% and February 106% of the average compared to 148% and 129% respectively in 2016.