The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) reports that retail sales of sporting goods, which reached $48.9 billion in 2004, are expected to grow 2% in 2005. For 2005, sales of athletic and sports equipment, shoes and clothing are forecast to reach $50.0 billion.

In 2004, athletic and sport clothing grew 6%, reaching $11.2 billion. Footwear showed a 2% gain, about the same as the previous year. Total footwear sales reached $14.75 billion in 2004 versus $14.45 billion the previous year. Equipment also showed a 2% gain. Sales of sports equipment were $22.9 billion in 2004 versus $22.4 billion in 2003.

Sales of all sporting goods (clothing, footwear and equipment) rose 3%, after being virtually unchanged in 2003. Sales reached $48.9 billion in 2004 versus $47.4 billion in 2003.

“All equipment categories with sales of more than $1 billion rose in 2004, but only hunting and firearms sales (with an increase of 8%) grew faster than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for All Items,” said NSGA vice president of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle. “The CPI finished 2004 up 3.3%. However, the detailed CPI for Sporting Goods averaged a 1.2% decline for the year.”

Hunting equipment sales rose to $2.87 billion from $2.65 billion the previous year. Exercise equipment sales (the largest equipment category at $5.01 billion) rose a scant 1%. Golf equipment sales ($3.15 billion) rose 3%. Fishing tackle and camping, the other two categories with sales of more than $1 billion showed increases of 2% and 3%, respectively. Sales in these major categories were $2.01 billion and $1.53 billion respectively.

Only three of the 21 equipment categories surveyed by the Association declined last year. Wheeled sports (which include scooters), water skis, and hockey & ice skates were each down 4% from 2003.

Sales of recreational transport equipment (bicycles, pleasure boats and motors, recreational vehicles, and snowmobiles) are forecast to rise 3% in 2005. Recreational transport equipment sales in 2004 were $35.8 billion, a 10% increase from the previous year. The recreational transport category has risen dramatically in recent years. Led by strong RV sales, the category has grown from $19.26 billion in 1995 to the more than $36.7 billion forecast for 2005.

“The Sporting Goods Market in 2005” is a copyrighted NSGA consumer study that projects 2004 purchases of sporting goods products based on a survey of 100,000 U.S. households. National Family Opinion, Inc., maintains the consumer panel used in the survey, which is balanced to parallel actual American household distribution as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Census, so that the data can be projected nationally.