Sporting goods store sales grew 38% in the U.S. during the five-year period 2002-2007, according to an NSGA analysis of just released U.S. Census of Retail data. Sales in sporting goods stores, which include full-line and specialty sports shops, rose to $34.49 billion in 2007 versus $25.02 billion in 2002.

The 38% growth was far stronger than the 4.4% U.S. population growth in the same timeframe.

“Major contributors to this growth were the expansion of the fitness equipment market with the attendant carryover into fitness footwear and apparel, as well as the increased market share attained by full-line sporting goods stores,” NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle said. “According to NSGA Sporting Goods Market reports, the size of market grew 17% between 2002 and 2007. In that same five-year period, full-line sporting goods stores increased their market share from 21.3% to 28.3%.”

Sales growth was stronger in the full-line store segment, up 44% to $18.66 billion in 2007 versus $12.98 billion in 2002. Sales in specialty sports shops rose 31% to $15.83 billion versus $12.05 billion in 2002. In the previous Census of Retail, sales had also grown more rapidly in full-line stores than in specialty sports shops, 39% versus 12%.

The Census of Retail does not count specialty athletic footwear stores in the sporting goods store category.

NSGA Research has extracted data on full-line sporting goods stores, specialty sport shops and athletic footwear stores into a 58-page report. For these three categories of stores, the report provides sales, number of stores, number of employees, sales per store, sales per employee and number of employees per store. This data is provided for the U.S., for the nine census regions and for all 50 states. Data from the current Census (2007) is compared with previous Censuses.

Cost of the report (Sporting Goods Stores: Sales, Number & Distribution) is $140 to NSGA members, $190 to non-members.

The Census of Retail Trade is done once every five years by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Data already released and a schedule of when additional data will be released may be found at