Worldwide sales of sports equipment, apparel and footwear increased by a healthy four per cent to $278.4 billion in 2007, according to a new report by market research firm NPD Group.
US share of the market decreased from 40 per cent to 36 per cent, mostly due to weakness in the dollar. Europe increased its market share based on the strength of the Euro and despite slow sales growth in the territory (up two per cent).
The fastest growing markets were South Asia and Central Asia (up 13 per cent); Middle East (up 16 per cent) and Central and Eastern Europe (up 20 per cent).
"This increase is being driven by wealth," said the report's author Renaud Vaschalde from NPD. "Sales are increasing in those countries where the level of economic development allows the population to purchase more discretionary goods, and we are seeing that sports brands have become an important social status symbol. Good examples of this are Kazakhstan, Israel, Poland or Slovakia."
Western Europe, Scandinavia, Japan and Canada posted flat growth rates.
Despite its slowing economy, the US posted the highest growth rate among the top six developed countries, showing a three per cent gain in the sports market. The growth was evenly distributed between footwear (three per cent), apparel (four per cent), equipment (three per cent) and bikes (three per cent).
In Asia, the sports and sport-inspired apparel and footwear market is driving the upward sales trend there.
"Our analysis shows that more than a third of the overall global revenue in the sports market is being generated by sport-inspired sneakers and garments vs sneakers and garments actually used for sports," continued Vaschalde.
"if we take out equipment and bikes, the ratio goes beyond 50 per cent of the business done on 'sport-style' rather than 'sport-use'. So, it comes as no surprise that manufacturers are jumping on the lifestyle wave in the hopes that their businesses can ride it into profits."