2015 Off-Course Retail Report Shows a Mixed Bag of Growth & Contraction

Longitudes Group today announced the release of its bi-annual 2015 Market Trend Report on USA Off-Course Golf retail.  The channel continues to be cut-throat all while consolidating as the effects of Worldwide Golf acquisition of Edwin Watts played out in 2014.  The merger forced more than 40 Edwin Watts locations to close, significantly impacting the entire US Off-course channel.  Longitudes Group tracked a net loss of stores in the channel at (-82) locations, a drop of 8.6%.  In addition to the Watts closings, fifty plus closures of independent retailers shows the relinquishing of control to the well-funded few.  The retailers who were opening new locations were led by Golfsmith and PGA Tour Superstores.  The specialty golf channel is now dominated by the national chains.  76% of all square footage and 34% of the door counts are owned by multi-door retailers with store footprints over 10,000 square feet.

First released in 2004, Longitudes Group annually tracks the growth and contraction of the Off-Course retail market with this bi-annual report.  In the overall Off-course retail segment, 2014 brought good news for golfers and growth both in terms of square foot expansion and deep discounts as retailers tried to move gluts of inventory especially in the Woods category. Big Box chains were the lion’s share of the square footage growth with Golfsmith and PGA Tour Superstores aggressively opening gigantic stores in key markets.

Key findings of the current research include:

  • 47% of the gear sold last year in the US golf market flowed through the Off-course channel including $2.2B in apparel/soft goods and $2.9B in hard goods.
  • 76% of all square footage and 34% of the door counts are owned by multi-door retailers with store footprints over 10,000 square feet.
  • Total square footage of off-course retail increased by 1.9% to 8.6M square feet, while the number of total off-course stores decreased by 8.6% to 869 stores.
  • No single Off-course chain has adopted the full-spectrum of Omni-channel retail strategies that big box chains are embracing in other sporting goods and apparel sectors. Golfsmith has a slight lead versus the three other national chains by offering consumers the option to check real-time store inventory on-line and pick-up in-store, often within two hours.  PGA Tour Superstores is the only chain offering free returns.

The market has been in a significant state of flux making both retailers and manufacturers nervous as significant amounts of market share are up for grabs in 2015.  “The largest participants may not be the most financially stable as we saw with the drop in golf sales from both TaylorMade and Dick’s/Golf Galaxy in 2014,” states Sara Killeen, President of Longitudes Group.  “The coming year will be a horse race with varying strategies between the largest retail chains.  Some will seek to win market share at all costs while others pursue financial stability via careful investing.” 

The Research

Calls to retailers were conducted via Longitudes Group outbound research and call centers, based in Portland, Oregon.  These annual phone surveys establish a baseline count of stores, store size, and product categories carried. Retailers that have gone out of business, moved locations, or were incorrectly categorized as brick and mortar golf retailers are removed from the list or updated.  The definition of the off-course golf retail store model is a brick and mortar store with its primary business being the sale of branded and pro-line golf equipment, accessories and soft goods at a location not adjacent to a golf course.

The report includes a complete analysis of 210 markets tracking last year’s metro-by-metro changes both in the number of stores and the expansion/contraction of total retail square feet.  The nineteen (19) page report is affordably priced at $395 per copy via Longitudes Group website. For further information on the preparation of a custom analysis please contact Sara Killeen at (503) 477-6284.

Longitudes Group, LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a research and marketing company providing unique analysis on the travel and spending behaviors of avid golfers in the US and Canada. Armed with a database containing information on the behavior of 5 million avid golfers mapped by county and zip code, Longitudes Group uses a geo-demographic approach to probe both the location and purchase behavior of the avid golfer population. On the supply side, Longitudes Group has built the most up-to-date database of golf retailers including 15,700 golf facilities, 869 off-course retail stores and 2,100 chain sporting goods stores. Canadian MarketAnalyses are also available.  For more information, visit the company online at www.longitudesgroup.com

Contact Info:

Sara Killeen, President
(503) 477-6284