SFIA Releases 2021 State of the Industry Report

For Second Time in Decade, Industry Trends Up As Overall Economy Sees Hit

SILVER SPRING, MD (September 8, 2021) – The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has released its 2021 State of the Industry Report, an in-depth analysis of the trends and issues affecting the sports and fitness industry, including participation, economy, and industry environment for 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unique changes to the sports and fitness world. Even in the worst of recessions, the industry has never experienced anything like the unprecedented, immediate global shutdown of retail, operations, workplaces, travel, and sports and fitness facilities. Following the initial shock, the industry pivoted, and in turn, persevered, adapting to focus on ecommerce and responding to the demand for new products, such as home fitness and cycling products.

Since the start of the pandemic, the sports and fitness industry outperformed other sectors of the U.S. economy. Despite COVID-restrictions, sporting goods sales overall were able to recover to post a small, but positive, growth rate of 0.6%. While the sporting goods industry and GDP almost always trend in the same direction, in 2020, the industry grew while the overall economy saw a 3.5% hit. This hit to the GDP was greater than the impact of the stock market crash in 2009, when the sporting goods industry contracted by more than 4%. 2018 was the only year in the last decade besides 2020 where GDP grew faster than sporting goods.

Additionally, almost two-thirds of businesses expect sales to recover to at least pre-COVID predictions by the end of 2021, and 73% of businesses predict a strong future for the sports industry, substantially higher than in 2018 and 2019. While the top industry concerns are product sourcing and material cost/availability, businesses will continue to rely heavily on online sales in 2021, with websites being the fasted growing point of sale in 2020.

“Even during such a unique time, the sports and fitness industry was able to adapt and perserve, with more capabilities to be physically active from our own homes and the use of digital tools to connect, partnered with the ability to participate in socially-distanced outdoor activities,” said Tom Cove, President & CEO, SFIA. “The increase we saw in participation has led to more industry optimism for the rest of 2021 and into 2022 – and the industry is primed to respond.”

Despite the challenges COVID-19 presented, the overall number of sports and fitness participants in the United States still saw an increase, with a participation rate of 75.6% – the highest seen over the last six years, with inactivity dropping by 2.4%, with the trend leaning towards activities that were more favorable to participate in during the pandemic.

Cove states, “The pandemic changed the way of life for so many Americans, and especially the way that we stay mentally and physically healthy – leading a lot of Americans to take up being physically active as a way to cope, adapting to the the pandemic by participating in ‘COVID-acceptable’ activities.” 

The 2021 State of the Industry Report report is free to SFIA Members and is available to the public for purchase by clicking here. The report is provided free-of-charge to members of the media. If you are interested in a copy of this report, please contact Lisa Futterman at [email protected].


ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation, as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs and member services. For more information, please visit www.sfia.org.

Related Content