The European Outdoor Group (EOG) has released the key findings from the latest phase of its ongoing State of Trade market research programme. Top line sell-in figures for 2014 showcase a sector that grew by 1.2% in value and 1.4% in volume, with an overall value of €4.83 billion, equating to an estimated €10.2 billion at retail. The figures were significantly affected by circumstances in Russia, where the market reduced by 20.2%. Excluding Russia, the European market grew by 2.7% in value and 2.3% in volume, at about the rate of inflation.
Most countries and categories reflected the overall growth figures, but there were some variations. As in the previous year, footwear was the fastest growing category, up 2.8% in value and 4.0% volume. Apparel, the largest category, was effectively flat, with just 0.1% growth in value, though this figure was significantly distorted by the situation in Russia and mild weather during autumn/winter.
Backpacks and luggage grew by around 2% in value and volume, with strong performance in both spring/summer and autumn/winter. In equipment, climbing had a good year with growth in value and volume of around 2.5%, while growth in tents was about 2% and accessories grew in value by 2.8% and volume by 2.1%. Russia had a big impact on sleeping bags and mattresses, but excluding that market, the category grew 1.8% in value and 2.9% in volume.
Once again, the three largest markets were Germany, the UK & Ireland and France, each of which grew between 2% and 3%. Southern Europe continued to make a good recovery, with Spain and Italy up 2.5% in value and Scandinavia was buoyant, growing around 3% in value, with the exception of Finland which was affected most by the situation in Russia. Overall, Eastern Europe recorded steady growth, at just under 3% in value.
“Market conditions remain challenging and the competition for consumer spend is very tough. Despite this, the outdoor sector continues to be strong and to grow, which is impressive,” Mark Held, EOG general secretary, comment. “Even sceptics should now accept that this is not a short term trend, but a more fundamental consumer movement, reflecting an underlying desire to move and to enjoy nature. Of course, we cannot be complacent and expect that this will continue unprompted in an era of urbanisation and digitalisation, but there is clearly still potential for growth if our industry can succeed in encouraging more people to participate in outdoor activities.”