Run the Numbers: Here’s How Much the Global Sports Market Could Be Worth by 2023

In our new column, Run the Numbers, FN unpacks the data that’s driving top retail trends in the industry.

Consumer spending in the global sports market has continued to make headway.

According to research firm The NPD Group Inc., the industry saw a 7% gain in dollars in 2018 — largely thanks to headlining events like World Cup, which have led to a growing participation in sports activities from the court to the field.

In its latest Global Sports Market report, NPD tracked the performance of more than a dozen sports around the world as well as the categories taking the most market share.

Here are five takeaways.

In less than five years, the global sports market is expected to grow by nearly a third.

Industry analysts at NPD predicted the global sports market will be worth $626.8 billion by 2023 — up 33% from the $471.3 billion tracked in 2018. Boosting last year’s figures were the sport style and multisport categories with a 39% contribution as well as apparel at 37%.

The U.S. is leading the market, followed by China and Japan.

The United States continued to lead the pack, accounting for 32.5% of the global sports market. At No. 2, China represented 12.7% of the market, while the third- and fourth-ranked Japan and Germany trailed at 4.6% and 4.1%, respectively. France rounded out the list, contributing 3.2% of the industry. Altogether, the five countries made up 57% of the global sports market.

Footwear is the market’s strongest performing category.

All categories worldwide showed gains in the mid to high single-digits, with footwear marking the biggest increase of 9% in dollars. Apparel followed with an 8% climb, while bicycles and accessories rose 6% and equipment grew 5%.

Last year, footwear represented $130.5 billion of the market, with that figure predicted to rise to $182.3 billion by 2023.

Running advances in seven of the top 10 countries.

In 2018, running showed improvements in seven of the top 10 countries in the global sports market — reaching $33 billion in size, or a jump of 7% in dollars from the prior year. Cycling, exercise and walking, hiking and camping were also among the divisions that showed the most gains.

Baseball and soccer saw booms last year due to new youth bat regulations and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, respectively; however, NPD expects a negative trend for such equipment sales this year. “Given these circumstances that were unique to 2018, the sports equipment market will need to capitalize on new, long-term opportunities to succeed in this new year,” said senior sports industry analyst Matt Powell.

In running, Brooks finishes first.

Brooks has emerged as the top specialty running brand for the second consecutive year-to-date. From January to May 2018, the performance wear company claimed the No. 1 spot in the group with 25.6% of the market share — an achievement it repeated this year at 26.2%.

“Brooks has set the standard for great customer service, which has outsize importance in the run specialty market. Combine the great service with fresh and innovative products, and you have a winning combination,” Powell previously told FN. “[And] Brooks has essentially carried the industry over the last few years as the other major players have struggled.”

New Balance and Saucony followed, with 12.4% and 9.2%, respectively, in 2018. Other brands that made last year’s list (in order of ranking) included Hoka One One, Asics, Nike, On Running, Mizuno, Altra and Adidas.

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