Drastic drop in sales, unsold stocks, implementation of new health protocols: since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, companies in the sporting goods industry have been facing unprecedented difficulties. Six months after the beginning of the outbreak, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) publishes a new SURVEY which reflects on the main challenges facing companies and yet reveals a glimmer of hope thanks to the sector’s rapid adaptation and the boom in e-commerce sales.

Our new survey shows that the sporting goods industry is still facing many difficulties, in particular due to the closure of brick-and-mortar shops and border restrictions. The sector has already estimated a loss of turnover of between 10 and 30% in 2020”, commented Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary General. “With the new wave of lockdowns across Europe, concerns are growing, especially in the ski sector, whose activity totally depends on the opening of resorts and rental shops. With an already anticipated sharp drop in sales, the ski sector is about to experience a very complicated season”, he added.

FESI survey also shows widespread difficulties in the implementation of sanitary protocols, the average cost of which is estimated at 100,000 euros per company (including SMEs). FESI brands, which are located throughout Europe, had to deal with a multitude of new unharmonized rules, that sometimes revealed to be contradictory from one country to another. Respondents to the survey expressed an urgent need to adopt a common EU-wide risk categorisation criterion to enable harmonised health protocols as the pandemic evolves.

Despite all these difficulties, none of the interviewed companies envisage to go bankrupt either by the end of 2020 or in 2021. 69% of them are also confident of an economic recovery in 2021. This positive picture is partly due to the massive implementation of teleworking and the exponential boom of e-commerce. In fact, online sales have seen an increase of more than 80% for 37% of the companies during the first lockdowns, which has enabled companies to cover part of the losses from physical sales (between 30 and 65% of the losses for 1/3 of the companies).

If the crisis has shown the rapid adaptability of the sector, it has also revealed the vital role of sport and physical activity for public health through a threefold action: upstream as a preventive measure, during the crisis to ensure physical and mental well-being, and afterwards to help healing. FESI is pleased that the European Commission has taken this seriously and will organise a major conference on this topic tomorrow. “FESI has taken part in the Commission’s survey that will be revealed during tomorrow’s conference on the recovery of the sport sector. We sincerely hope that our recommendations have been taken into account. To make this public health role more of a reality, it is crucial that sport and physical activity are integrated in all future policy measures and a central element of national recovery strategies”, concluded Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary General.

The survey published today was conducted among FESI members – companies and national federations (including members of our national federations) – in order to gather their views and experiences about the impact of COVID-19 related measures on their businesses. It was carried out as a follow-up to a previous FESI study conducted last spring, shortly after the start of the first lockdowns resulting in the closure of non-essential brick-and-mortar stores all over Europe.