According to current research from the European Outdoor Group (EOG), the European outdoor sector experienced significant growth in 2017. Its annual State of Trade Report, based on figures achieved in the previous year, indicates that the wholesale outdoor market grew by 7.2% in value (value not adjusted for currency/inflation) and 6.7% in volume.
The State of Trade research uses data from 115 brands from across Europe, analyzing sell-in information for seven main categories and 48 separate sub-categories. The latest results offer a contrast to the flat market of 2015 and modest growth (3% in value) in 2016.
Last year, the wholesale outdoor market in Europe was worth €5.86 billion; based on this wholesale figure, the projected retail value of the European outdoor market in 2017 was €12.3 billion. Representing around 50% of the sector, the largest three country markets are Germany, France and the UK. Germany grew by 3% in value though conditions were more challenging in France which experienced a dip in value of 2%. However, the UK grew by 8%; the sector average was 6.7%.
With the exception of tents, all product categories experienced year-on-year growth. Apparel, the largest category, grew by 5% in value and 6.7% in volume, after a particularly strong autumn/winter season, which was helped by the good seasonal conditions. The decline of tent sales was underpinned by a difficult start to the spring/summer season in 2017, particularly in the UK, which is the biggest market for the category; spring/summer usually achieves around 70% of tent sales. Recovering after a decline in 2016, footwear performed well with double-digit growth in value. Sleeping bags enjoyed a similar performance, again following a decline in 2016.
Since its launch several years ago, State of Trade has developed into the most comprehensive and robust market data project for the European outdoor sector. All data supplied is anonymized before collation, interpretation and publication. As well as analyzing the data submitted, the EOG considers expert opinion across the industry to peer review figures which confirmed that numbers and growth in 2017 were in line with the expectations of those who were consulted.
Pauline Shepherd, EOG Head of Market Research, said, “We are always exploring how we can improve the project and with EOG members we are currently assessing how we can use technology to enhance data collection and continue to develop the product categories. In addition, as we now have a number of retail members, we are currently running a pilot project to develop sell-through reporting.”
Known as the Retail Barometer, the pilot is now at its second stage and will run until July 2019. As with the wholesale report, this is a confidential survey, open to retailers and brands with their own shops selling in Europe. The purpose is to generate data regarding sales performance at retail in the outdoor sector in order to offer a benchmark to participating retailers for their sales in the context of the industry average per quarter, year on year.
The EOG was established fifteen years ago to represent the wide interests of the outdoor sector via a number of coordinated, cross-border initiatives including market research, trade shows and other events, sustainability, liaising with politicians and the promotion of participation in outdoor recreation. Membership (102 full members and ten associate members) includes manufacturers, retailers and national trade associations.