Possibly a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel?

    The good news is that the positive monthly trend in value sales seen over recent months has stabilised: February was +11.1%, March +7.5%, and April +4.0%. Now, May’s overall performance was +3.9%. All product groups showed growth from +1.8% for clubs to +9.2% for apparel. The latter catching up on poor performance at the end of 2022.

    Unit sales saw some growth in May. With 14 out of 17 categories seeing year on year increases. This shows that more merchandise was required to achieve the sales value, also indicating that were some price drops. These cuts for hardware compared to last year ranged from -1.5% for irons through to -7.3% for wedges. There were price increases too, the highest being seen for distance devices at +18.3%. A similar pattern was seen in apparel ranging from -0.4% for men’s tops to -10.9% for women’s tops. Only men’s trousers and shorts showed an increase at +2.2%.

    Certainly, May’s weather will have encouraged golfers to play. The month started quite settled and fine, but it was not long before it deteriorated with flooding in the south and east.  The second part of the month cheered up. Overall temperatures during the month were above the seasonal average. Rainfall was only 55% although the southern and eastern corner of the country was above average, while the north was below. Sunshine was a little better than expected for the time of the year. Quite good weather for playing golf depending on where you live!

    Year-to-date figures have continued to improve from the very poor start to the year when January was -17.7% and February -4.3% to +2.2% in May. Caution however must be exercised when considering these figures as inflation will have increase many if not most costs, thereby hitting profitability.

    Drilling down to individual product sales values for May we find a wide range of performances. Eight out of the ten hardware products showed growth. Only two showed losses compared to last year: irons at -7.3% and putters at -2.2%. At the other extreme woods weighed in at +12.3%. Great news as it is the second largest individual product accounting for 17.5% of the market mix. Apparel showed a similar pattern with three out of the seven products showing losses and five showing gains ranging from +5.6% for men’s tops to +30.3% for women’s shirts.

    Finally, what has been happening to retail in general? Paul Martin UK Head of retail at KPMG commented that “High Street retailers saw more categories slip into negative sales territory last month with health, beauty and food driving sales on the High Street”. These are not product groups that directly concern the golf industry. However, food in particular continued to show rampant inflation with little prospect of a fall soon. This will have a continued effect on non-essential spending – a category unfortunately that golf falls into. So, caution still needs to be exercised but there appears to be a flicker of light at the end of a very long tunnel. 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.