Trends & Features

Salute the sun

Sales of swimming equipment and apparel, much like the outdoor sector, can be heavily influenced by weather conditions.

Q3 is the most important period of the year in the UK for swimming purchases, with over £60 million being spent during these three months alone.

High temperatures
The unusually high temperatures we experienced last summer certainly had an impact on sales after a disappointing Q2, where sales were more than 10 per cent down on the same period in 2012. Crucially, the warm weather lasted longer than a couple of days and so the market enjoyed strong sales in Q3 to make up for the Q2 shortfall.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was mostly males 13-plus that drove this spending, purchasing new swimming shorts to wear to the beach, but also for leisure purposes. There was a similar pattern across Europe, as male consumers led the swimwear spending spree in Q3.

When it comes to female consumers, we saw a slight movement away from one-piece to two-piece swimsuits, as younger consumers favoured the latest high street styles and fashions. In Europe as a whole, spending among females was consistently below 2012 levels.

Important element
Children aged 12 and under are an important element of the swimwear market, contributing over £11 million to the category within the UK in Q3. However, even as the country basked in the summer sun, spending by adults on children’s swimwear was down on 2012 levels, a result of hard-pressed parents still feeling the economic pinch after the credit crunch.

Speedo is the undisputed market leader in the UK, but there have been some interesting developments involving other brands in the marketplace. Increasingly, we are witnessing retailers such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Asda successfully launching own-brand swim ranges. Fashion multiples such as Next and Topshop are also reporting strong swimwear sales, as they leverage their fashion conscious consumer base.

The challenge for brands such as Speedo, Nike and adidas is maintaining a balance between their performance and leisure products, while trying to expand distribution, an area that’s increasingly being squeezed by supermarkets and vertical retailers.

The NPD Group monitors the sales of sports footwear and apparel in many countries around the world. For more information call the NPD Group sports team on 01932 355580 or visit

Picture supplied by Aqua Sphere.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button