News-Releases Index | Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA)
2018 SFIA State of the Industry Report Identifies New Opportunities Presented by an Increasingly Consumer-Centric World (09/12/18)
The 2018 SFIA State of the Industry Report, released today, indicates the American sports and fitness
products industry grew 2.4 percent in 2017, up from 2.0 percent growth in 2016 and 2015. The industry
performed slightly better than the overall GDP (Gross Domestic Product) rate of 2.3 percent growth in
2017. This follows the historical pattern that the sports product industry growth exceeds GDP in good
economic times, and fares worse than GDP in times of recession. The report also features a detailed
explanation of sports and fitness participation trends, and their impact on the current and future health
of the sports and fitness industry.
“The sports and fitness business is resilient, and positive macroeconomic indicators, such as low
unemployment and growing consumer confidence bode well,” said SFIA President and CEO, Tom Cove.
“At the same time, while our industry remains vibrant, we know our companies feel like they need to
work harder than ever to keep ahead of changing consumer behavior, retail challenges and some
worrisome sports participation trends.”
The report indicates growing and protecting market share and managing retail disruption are top
concerns of companies, while aggressive commitment to direct-to-consumer and omnichannel
marketing are primary responses to current market conditions. Customization, speed-to-market,
innovative technology and consumer connections are leading strategies for future growth.
There are many independent variables affecting the sports and fitness industry. Higher import tariffs
could have a serious negative impact on manufacturing costs and profits, and even sports
participation. When high tariffs are imposed, and costs of athletic products rise demonstrably, it is
envisioned that both sales and activity rates could suffer. Sport governing bodies are also identified as
key influencers, whether positively through “growing the game” initiatives or negatively through
excessive regulation and rule changes.
While the market reflects consumer trends and participation habits, this report combines data from the
2018 SFIA Topline Participation Report, industry-specific surveys, and industry insight and analysis to
deliver a comprehensive, fully-encompassing view of where the industry stands today. As these
reports continue to show, inactivity rates remain high and money continues to play a stronger role. The
correlation between household income and inactivity has become more severe, pay-to-play programs
have a much stronger presence when it comes to youth sports and new tariffs are threatening to make
products more expensive. We must find ways to make youth sports more affordable. Increasing athlete
participation is not only good for the sports and fitness industry business, but for the overall health of
This year’s report also includes in-depth interviews with: Mike Dowse (President, Wilson Sporting
Goods), Justin Kaufenberg (Co-Founder and CEO, SportsEngine) and Richie Woodworth (President,
Wolverine Boston Group).
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