Economic indicators improving

    Golf Datatech analyse how the poor weather continued to stifle sales in the first quarter of 2024.

    The weather continues to dominate the scene which is a vital concern for the golf industry as it is very much weather dependent. March was unsettled, wet and dull with some parts of the country even experiencing snow. Temperatures were up on seasonal averages. Southern England was the warmest and recorded the seventh highest March temperature since 1884. Rainfall varied from south to north. England and Wales recorder more that 150% and Scotland 90% of its average. England and Wales also had only 79% of its average sunshine while Scotland had 104%.

    With the above in mind, it is not surprising that overall sales for March were well down on the same period last year by -6.8%. This continues the weak start to the year. Two out of the four individual product groups showed a decline ranging from -10.6 % for clubs, a quite different picture to last month, to -6.1% for apparel. The two groups showing growth were light durables at +3.8% and consumables +4.6%.

    The good news for the month comes from individual hardware products, which show eight out of the eleven reported on by Golf Datatech showing growth ranging from +3.4% for bags to +20.0% for wedges. On the other hand, higher price point items are down: trolleys -19.2%, irons -17.3% and woods –12.6%. Balls, usually a good indicator of play are up by +4.9%. This might be being driven by greater levels of promotional activity but either way it shows some positive signs.

    The picture for apparel is bleak with six out of the eight products showing a decline ranging from -20.9% for men’s trousers and shorts to -1.4% for headwear. Only shirts and tops show growth.

    The year to date performance not surprisingly has continued to fall from -3.3% in January to -4.9% in March. All products groups are now showing a decline from -6.4% for apparel to -1.0% for consumables.

    Economic indicators are the one thing that is improving and can offer help for the future. Inflationary pressures are reducing, mortgage rates, a large chunk of most consumers expenditure, have fallen. However, many consumers are still wary paying close attention to where they can afford to spend their descriptions purchasing power. As we said last month there is still a flickering light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully with warmer dry weather as the year progresses will help too. Remember, golfers have shown in the past that missed spend can be caught up in later months, when they can get out on their course. So, the weather still has a big part to play. GR

    Golf Datatech is a world leader in golf industry research. It provides the trade with specialised market research covering retail sales, inventory, pricing, distribution, along with strategic sales and marketing consultancy. In the UK, Golf Datatech research is based on an average of 2,000,000 records per month, recorded by EPOS systems at the point of sale. For greater detail contact John Hassett on 07976 797081.

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    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.