Despite an economic recession in 2020, the U.S. sports and fitness market, including footwear, apparel and equipment, grew by 0.6 percent in 2020. The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) released the 2021 Manufacturers’ Sales by Category Report today, reporting major growth in consumer fitness, as well as a strong sports equipment category. Traditionally, sports and fitness sales patterns tend to mimic GDP growth; however, as the national GDP decreased 2.3 percent in 2020, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the sports and fitness industry was slightly up.
The impact of the recession was very unique in sports and fitness, highlighting specific categories that gained popularity under nationwide restrictions. Consumer fitness was booming in 2020, increasing 40.5 percent in just one year. This surge was the contributing factor to overall industry growth in 2020. Free weights (104.2 percent), exercise benches (78.0 percent), home gyms (73.7 percent) and exercise cycles (67.1 percent) were the biggest gainers in the consumer fitness category.
While a majority of traditional team sports equipment products were down, the basketball category held strong (11.6 percent), spearheaded by a 20.3 percent growth in basketball backboards. Camping (10.9 percent), fishing (14.9 percent) and golf (19.0 percent) also boasted significant growth in the equipment category. Many sales categories reflected participation trends reported in the 2021 SFIA Topline Participation Report.
The athletic footwear category was down 4.0 percent, but the outdoor/adventure (15.1 percent), fitness/workout (14.8 percent) and golf (8.4 percent) footwear categories increased significantly. Again, this increase strongly mimics participation trends of those specific activities in 2020.
The SFIA Manufacturers’ Sales by Category Report measures U.S. wholesale revenues across 5 major categories, 34 subcategories, with nearly 150 various breakdowns.