One year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) is publishing a new study, taking the pulse of its members on the COVID-19’s impact on their businesses. Stores’ closures, supply chain disruptions, complex delivery fulfilment: despite the string of difficulties over the last 12 months, most sporting goods companies are now on their way to recovery. Some sectors, such as the outdoor, have even seen a tremendous increase in sales. On the other hand, the ski industry remains extremely affected by the closure of ski lifts, which has resulted in a loss of more than 50% of the annual activity.

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 travel restrictions. The sector registered a loss of turnover of up to 30% in 2020 as compared to 2019”, commented Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary General. “As anticipated in our previous survey, the most urgent concern at the moment is with the winter sports industry, which has lost almost 50% of its activity due to the closure of ski resorts during the last season. Unfortunately, the survey’s results show that public aid has so far been insufficient to cover a reasonable part of the losses incurred”, he added.

Despite the multiple challenges over the past year, the results of FESI’s survey show encouraging signs of recovery. Nearly half of the companies expect a smaller impact – not exceeding 10% – on their revenues in 2021. Some businesses even anticipate an increase in their turnover. Two main reasons can explain this trend. First, the significant effect of e-commerce, whose sales have more than doubled during the closure of physical stores. This boom in online retail of sporting goods has even helped some companies to cover up to 60% of their losses in physical sales. The second trend that may explain this optimistic forecast is the explosion in demand for outdoor activities. Indeed, with the closure of gyms and other indoor facilities, lots of consumers have opted for outdoor activities, such as hiking, jogging, climbing, or cycling. More than 55% of the survey’s respondents reported an increase in demand for outdoor equipment, followed by footwear and bicycles. Industry experts expect this trend to consolidate in the future[1].

Finally, FESI’s survey also looks at the measures taken at national and EU levels and draws up a series of recommendations for the coming months. In particular, members of the sports industry are counting on the rapid implementation, before summer, of the COVID-19 certificate for travel to facilitate a sustainable recovery of business activities. The EU funds under the European Recovery and Resilience Facility are also impatiently awaited by companies, which are still facing cash flow management difficulties. FESI Secretary General Jérôme Pero will further explore some of the key findings and recommendations of the study during the EU Sport forum held on 8 and 9 June. 

The survey published today was conducted during the month of April 2021, in the middle of the 3rd series of lockdowns in most EU Member States. It covers the entire period from the COVID-19 outbreak until now. This study gathered responses from a critical mass of the European Sporting Goods companies with more than 80% of respondents composed of brands and retailers, 12% of manufacturers, and 8% of suppliers, over a geographical area covering the main outbreaks of the epidemic in Europe. The respondents are composed of 38% of large enterprises (more than 250 employees), 50% of SMEs (between 1 and 249 employees), and 12% of national associations.


[1] https://www.boardsportsource.com/2021/03/26/european-outdoor-group-discuss-market-trends-outdoor-activity-boom-sustainable-tech/