Sporting goods 2021: The next normal for an industry in flux

Eight trends are shaping the sporting goods industry in 2021. To win in the next normal, players must adapt to a shifting landscape.

In 2020, the sporting goods industry contracted for the first time since the financial crisis of 2007–08. Most brands, retailers, and manufacturers finished the year significantly in the red, despite a bounce back in activity after the first and before the second wave of COVID-19-related lockdowns. The exception was the Chinese market, which continued its role as the industry’s growth engine after expanding at an average of 16.5 percent a year (CAGR) from 2015 to 2019.1 Sporting goods companies saw their market valuations fall in the early months of the pandemic. However, they tended to outperform the wider marker as the year progressed, with sports-equipment makers (particularly bicycle and digitally enabled fitness equipment) doing especially well. Sportswear companies were also more resilient than the rest of the apparel industry (Exhibit 1).

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By Achim Berg, Sajal Kohli, and Alexander Thiel
Achim Berg, Sajal Kohli, and Alexander Thiel