From archery to water skiing, the U.S. sports industry is nearly a $70 billion business. According to SGMA International’s Recreation Market Report, manufacturers sales of sporting goods equipment, sports apparel, athletic footwear, and recreational transport items in the U.S. totaled $68.2 billion in 2002-a 1.9% increase over 2001.

Sports equipment sales remained steady-$17.5 billion in 2002 vs. $17.4 billion in 2001. The six largest categories of sports equipment are exercise equipment machines ($3.78 billion); golf ($2.38 billion); firearms/hunting ($1.90 billion); camping ($1.71 billion); team/institutional ($1.55 billion); and fishing ($1 billion). Sport categories registering significant sales gains were snowboards (up 12% to $168 million), paintball (up 10.4% to $370 million), ice skates/hockey (up 8.5% to $255 million), optical goods (up 8.5% to $575 million), billiards (up 6.5% to $245 million), and firearms/hunting (up 5.5% to $1.9 billion).

In the exercise equipment category, treadmill sales account for 26.2% of that category. Also, sales of elliptical machines have surpassed aero gliders. In team sports, the three largest categories were baseball/softball ($448 million); basketball ($380 million); and soccer ($235 million). Glove/mitt sales rose 10% from $110 million in 2001 to $121 million in 2002, well above the growth rate of the baseball/softball category (1.8%).

Sports apparel sales rose 3.3% in 2002, maintaining its position as the largest segment of the sports and recreation industry with sales of $22.3 billion. Activewear tops had the highest sales-$13.3 billion in 2002 versus $13.0 billion in 2001. Other sports apparel items experiencing sales growth were sweatshorts, sweatpants, shorts, socks, caps/hats, underwear (male), team uniforms, and coats/jackets.

Athletic footwear sales rose 2.5% in 2002. Total sales were $9.34 billion, compared with $9.11 billion in 2001. Three athletic footwear categories exceeded the billion dollar mark-running/jogging ($2.71 billion); basketball ($1.95 billion); and cross-training/fitness ($1.20 billion). The growth categories in athletic footwear were basketball (up 17.1%); tennis (up 16.7%); skateboarding (up 16%); and low performance (up 5.9%).

Recreational transport sales had a slight growth of 1.3%-from $17.92 billion in 2001 to $18.14 billion in 2002. The 7% rate of growth in pleasure boats/motors was offset by declining sales for personal recreational vehicles (down 8.4%). Sales of personal watercraft and bicycles & accessories were up-8.6% and 3.0%, respectively.

The SGMA’s Recreation Market Report is based on data from industry trade associations, a panel consisting of sporting goods companies marketing experts, and SGMA market research studies. It is the only report of its kind with such extensive coverage of the industry’s products and represents the most accurate picture of the sporting goods industry size and sales trends. It should be noted that all figures are based on manufacturers shipments (including imports) in the U.S. market and expressed in wholesale, not retail, dollar values.