According to a study by Golf Datatech, LLC, the closure of brick and mortar golf specialty stores and sporting goods outlets has left Dick’s Sporting Goods as the dominant player in the channel, as online sales of golf balls grow.
According to the seventh edition of the Serious Golfers Shopping and Purchasing Habits Study by research firm Golf Datatech, LLC, golf retail patterns continue to fluctuate as off-course brick-and-mortar stores close their doors.
The annual study provides tracking of golfers’ buying preferences, and where they buy product today, while detailing the current climate in the industry, surveying 2,500 serious golfers.
“Like most consumer shopping preferences in the United States, serious golfers’ choices about shopping for golf equipment or apparel have changed significantly over the past few years,” said John Krzynowek, a partner in Golf Datatech LLC. “The retail environment is rapidly evolving across all consumer products in the USA, and the purchasing of golf products is no exception. In fact, shopping for, and buying golf products is frequently a multi-step process. Gone are the days when golfers would buy without shopping for product features, as well as comparing prices. Today’s golfer is savvier about product life cycles and price/value relationships.”
The sample targeted multiple demographics, including: golf handicap, gender, facility played, geographic region, alpha consumers (those that buy products most frequently) and price points, along with a special investigation of online shopping habits.
Based on the results of the study, some of the key trends and “channel shift” highlights include:
· The leadership of the off-course channel has weakened across multiple product categories, although it still remains the channel of choice for most golfers. The number of off-course golf specialty “brick and mortar” locations that have closed over the past 12 months (100+) has left many golfers without convenient locations to shop.
· The sporting goods channel in total continued to decline in importance, but it remains very significant in golf balls and golf shoes. Like the off-course channel, the number of available sporting goods outlets dropped significantly in 2016, with the closing of Sports Authority. This leaves Dick’s Sporting Goods as the undisputed dominant player in the channel.
· Combined online shopping/browsing/buying was a bit of a mixed bag in 2017. While many online activities increased in importance, there were offsetting declines in other online segments, particularly in online auction sites like eBay.
· “Other online” sales, which includes Amazon, were broken out for the first time in this 2017 study, and were substantial in importance for some categories like golf balls.
“Golf retail is a moving target right now and consumer buying habits are changing at a rapid pace,” said Krzynowek. “That is why this study, and subsequent reports that capture the state of the golf retail sector, are vital for the golf industry.”