In the sports sector too, the pandemic has reinforced developments that were already apparent before: People want to get out into nature. The entire outdoor industry is currently benefiting from this.
The situation in the sports market is ambivalent. Classic year-round segments such as team sports, fitness or even swimming are currently going through hard times in view of closed sports venues and social distancing. Other segments, on the other hand, are booming more than ever, such as running, trail running, biking, outdoor and winter sports like cross-country skiing and ski touring, which can be done without crowds.
“The outdoors and the freedom it offers have never been more understood,” says Michael Horsch, VP product and marketing at The North Face. “And with that comes an increased demand for products that support outdoor activities.“ The industry is divided that this trend will continue for the upcoming 2021/22 winter season, the question is rather: how fashionable or timeless should one buy and how much? The uncertainty is already evident in the fact that many manufacturers have not yet been able to complete their order phase and have postponed the closing date for orders by several weeks.
General trend for collections: more all-season wear
Already in the first lockdown, the sportswear industry started adapting its collections to the special situation with brick and mortar stores being stocked to the brim and partly excellent sales in the online business: More all-season wear is the motto, which means that fewer new products are developed and at the same time more attention is paid to ensuring that collections match with each other even across seasons.
At Salewa, for example, the amount of all-season wear rose to 75 percent; the target is 80 percent. “Our customers don’t want a completely new product every year, and above all, they don’t want to feel that their product is only worth half at the end of December,” explains Stefan Rainer, chief sales officer of the Oberalp Group, which includes the Salewa and Dynafit brands. “Our retail partners have clearly signalled that this strategy has a positive effect on value retention, and our brands have been able to achieve a higher gross profit on average as a result.” This is also said to have the effect of freeing up more resources for the development of real innovations.