UK Golf Retail: End of Summer 2018 Market Update


Well, the sun kept on shining and England carried on playing football. That was the story in July, and it seemed to have a real impact on the UK golf market.


Cutting straight to the chase, July was down 7.3% Vs 2017 according to Golf Datatech's retail Audit. In fact, July ended up significantly smaller, in terms of sales, than April, May and June - which is very unusual.


What was to blame? 

Well, July saw 38% more sunshine than usual, and 34% less days of rain. And with the high temperatures we experienced, my concern was that, whilst sunshine is great weather for golf, it was just too hot for some people. However, it didn't seem to go that

way and, surprisingly, on course ball units were up significantly, as were shirts and shorts, for both men's and ladies. It looks like golfers were making hay and playing golf, but didn't want to think about buying new kit.

So July wasn't good and it was all a bit unusual. So let's skip forward to August.


Was August any better?

In year on year terms, it was slightly bigger than 2017 and significantly bigger than July 2018. So, that's good news - more money in the till.

Looking at the various product categories, Ladies Clothing seems to have had a big win with Ladies Shirts and Bottoms sitting at the top of the chart.


Generally, Clothing did very well and was the best, overall category. Consumables were also strong, with Balls and Gloves growing in sales. Clubs saw a small decline, but they are still up, over 4%, year to date. However, there were big drops for year on year for Woods and Putters. The biggest loser, this year, seems to be Distance devices that are struggling in general.


Are units and pricing moving the same way?


As you can see from the unit graphs, most of the changes have come from unit shifts, with massive spikes for the Ladies Clothing and Men's Tops. Other than wedges, all hardware was in decline. Balls saw a small increase - Gloves a big one.

Following up with the pricing changes, it would appear that some clearing has been going on. Clothing categories have seen some large discounts across the board - with Tops and Outerwear being reduced between 10% and 27% year on year: looking a bit like early sales or promotions.


Irons' significant price gains continue - as do gains in Wedges and Putters. Interestingly, Woods are now just in front of where they were last year.


Is the market in good health?

Overall, the market is just up on last year: but only just. In reality, this is an amazing performance, considering how bad it was at the start of the year, (where we were over 10% down after Q1).


Currently, we are 0.22% up on 2017 in value terms. This has been driven by big increases in Irons, Wedges and Men's shirts. While balls are on par, other categories are struggling. Some of this is due to the unusual warm weather, with Tops and Outerwear combing for a double digit decline. Shoes, Gloves and Trolleys have all struggled this year but the biggest loser has been Distance Devices, which have seen a significant value and unit drop. This is a big ticket spend and, with the Irons grabbing the attention of many golfers, it might just be that the market is a bit "spent out" on some of the higher value items.


Finally, where are we going to end?

Well, I have been calling a 4-5% decline Year on Year, in value terms, from the start of 2018. As it stands, I was some way off (although I doubt anyone could have guessed how the weather was going to turn out).

Last season, we had a big launch in the Autumn, which carried some momentum. Titleist now have their new TS clubs coming out and will hope they are a big success - which might support an end of season rally. The Ryder Cup was also a huge success and generated some great media attention to the sport: which might add a little life. While I am sure both of these will help, I still expect us to be a bit behind 2017 - but maybe a 1 or 2% decline is more realistic.

Great scenes at the weekend: Let's hope for good news in the market.


For more information about Golf Datatech's retail audit data, covering all the key golf categories in the US, UK, Sweden, Germany and France, contact Phil at or