European running market outperforms

18 Feb 2021

An uptick in participation has made the running business more resilient than the remainder of the sports market last year, and it has enhanced the prospects of the business with a wider range of participants.

The trend was clear across the five largest European markets, where running apparel and footwear retail sales contracted by about 3% to €4.2 billion last year, as estimated by NPD Group.

That compares with a decline of about 10% to €28.6 billion for sports apparel and footwear in the same markets. Running is the largest performance category, making up about 15% of sports footwear and apparel sales in the five largest European markets.

Dietmar Brandl, sport manager for the NPD Group in Germany, estimated in a presentation at ISPO Munich Online that the German footwear and apparel running market even increased by nearly 4% to €1,207 million last year. That’s a significant trend, since Germany makes up about 29% of the combined five largest European markets.

Participation trends suggests that runners practiced their sport more regularly last year. They were joined by beginners who started running as a means to remain active while many other sports weren’t an option. “We think that a lot of the additional running business after lockdown was simply coming from new runners,” Brandl concurs.
Most of the sales increase in Germany came from apparel, which grew by 9.5% to €505 million, while footwear was nearly flat at €702 million, based on NPD’s consumer panel. As Brandl explained, runners who started the activity this year probably bought several sets of running garments for various weather conditions.
Online sales made up 36% of running footwear sales in Germany last year, up from 29% in 2019. Several suppliers indicated that the shift was driven in part by lower-price purchases, but that the influx of beginners didn’t entail substantial price pressure.

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