Tough choices ahead

    Monthly figures are now best judged against 2021 as the boom effects following the final lock down have almost worked their way out. October results in value terms. therefor compared to last year are down by -13.5%. Surprisingly, the range of results is similar with light durables being worst effected at -16.4% and consumables being least affected at -8.9%. The latter is not unexpected as it covers the products needed every time a golfer plays: balls and gloves. What is surprising is that clubs, the products with the highest price points which could be expected to suffer most in the current economic conditions, is only down by 10.0%. Great news as they account for the largest slice of the product mix at 49.2%. Drilling down further into clubs shows their results ranged from -16.8% for putters, -16.4% woods, -4.0% irons and -2.4% wedges. So, irons are clearly the star product.

    Year-to-date figures we are still comparing in value terms to 2019. It being the most stable period in recent history. The downward trend continues but at a slower rate from August +13.1%, September +12.5% and October +12.3%. The problem with these figures is they include the effects of inflation. So, we need to consider unit sales too. Their trend over the last three months has been August -3.4%, September -3.5 and October -3.3%. These numbers portraying possibly a more realistic picture of the state of the industry.

    Extending the above analysis in volume terms for hardware products we find the top three year-to-date performers compared to 2019 are Wedges +10.1%, irons +8.6%, and gloves 4.3%. The bottom three are trolleys -22.8%, bags -14.6 % and putters -13.7%.

    So, how does the golf industries results compare with retail in general. KPMG’s Paul Martin, UK head of retail wrote for October 2022 “Despite the price of goods being higher than 2021, retail sales during October grew by just over 1% in value year on year. This increase is being driven by inflationary pressures and does not tell the true picture of sales volumes dropping as consumers purchase fewer products per shop”.

    Looking to the future the picture is not great with forecasters suggesting a growth in worldwide GDP – Gross Domestic Product – of 1.9% in 2023 compared to 2.7% this year. Unfortunately, our economy is not immune from the pressures causing these problems: the war in Ukraine, commodity shortages post Covid and in the UK’s case strikes for wage increases some above 10%. The choice for suppliers and retailers including our industry is whether to increase prices and possibly lose volume or hold prices but damage profitability. The choice for individual golf retailers in the UK will be different dependent on their financial strength. Not a happy situation.



    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



    Clubs:               Woods, irons, putters, and wedges

    Apparel:            Men’s and women’s shirts, bottoms, tops and weatherwear

    Consumables:   Balls and gloves

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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.