New figures from The Tennis Industry Association and Sports Marketing Surveys show strong growth in U.S. tennis racquet, tennis ball, and tennis string sales in 2021.
The findings, part of its quarterly tennis shipment sales program that tracks sales into the wholesale market (i.e. to retailers), also suggests that concerns about supply chains have not yet derailed growth.
Sales of racquets in the U.S. were up by 40.5 percent in volume (units) compared to the first six months of 2020; adult racquets grew faster than juniors; and racquets costing over $50 dominated in the first half of the year. The result of these trends is that the total dollar value of tennis racquet shipments into the U.S. doubled (+101 percent) compared to the equivalent months in 2020. This year’s numbers represent a 42 percent increase compared to 2019.
Last year, racquet sports were one of the fastest-growing categories in U.S. participation, with tennis, pickleball and platform/pop tennis accounting for three of the top six fastest-growing sports. Nearly four million more people ages 6 and older played tennis in the U.S. in 2020 ahead in 2019.
The findings suggest this momentum has carried through into 2021. Where many are concerned about the supply chain caused by the pandemic and that global trading patterns could dampen growth in the category, the half-year results suggest that retailers and players have access to products.
Sales of tennis balls rose 9 percent in volume and 11 percent in total dollar value in the first 6 months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. Championship balls performed well with a 13 percent increase in unit shipments. The growth was enough to offset reduced sales in practice balls and a slight reduction in sales of red, orange and green development balls.
Traditionally a good barometer of play frequency, ball sales, with the growth in higher value racquets, suggests that many of last year’s beginner players are staying in the sport. Unit shipments of racquet strings also increased by 66 percent in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020 and by 14 percent compared to 2019.
SMS President Keith Storey said, “It was clear early in the year that the outlook for racquet sales was good. More people came into the sport than usual in 2020, and fewer tennis players than usual dropped out. This meant a strong likely appetite for buying tennis racquets and balls in 2021. What many of our clients and contacts were concerned about was whether the global supply chain would support the new demand. So far in 2020, it has. The second half of 2020 saw fast-rising sales of tennis racquets and balls across the US, so it will be fascinating to see whether 2021 can keep up.”