As with all industries, the sports retail and leisure sectors were not left untouched by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the course of the last 12 months, the several national, and sometimes regional, restrictions have meant closures of all leisure and sport facilities (training grounds, sports clubs, centres, and gyms) and put a pause on team activities. It has no doubt been an uncertain time for those operating within the sport and leisure sectors, and forced many businesses to re-evaluate their approach.

We explore:

  1. How the sports retail landscape has evolved throughout 2020
  2. What the predicted directions are for the sector in 2021
  3. How EDI for sports retail & leisure could be key for businesses to remain agile and get a one-up on their competitors…

The half-time talk

The subsequent lockdowns of the last year have negatively impacted sporting goods sales. This has come down to the restrictions placed on team sports, attending sporting grounds and clubs, as well as training centres and gyms. The result of this is shown in the lack of sales across the board as many households have less disposable income due to furlough schemes or job losses, merchandise sales have also plummeted as large sporting events are put on hold.

However, several areas of opportunity were also identified over the course of 2020 leading, with brands adapting their strategies to these new trends in the sector;

  • With group sports and activities restricted, singular sporting activities see an increase, as more people take up running, walking, and cycling

“Bosses at Halfords believe they will manage to double profits after bike sales soared among stuck-at-home Brits. The retailer said it expected pre-tax profits for the year ending in April would hit between £90 million and £100 million, up from £52.6 million a year earlier.” (Retail gazette)

  • With the number of people working from home and with a reduced need for smarter attire, athleisure apparel has become a trend wear functionality meets casual wear.

“M&S said 52 per cent of its customers reported wearing activewear more as everyday clothing last year. Between March and September, activewear sales on M& were up by 200 per cent.” (Reatil Gazette)

  • With gyms and sports centres closed, people have turned to buying home fitness equipment and online/digital training programmes

“Physical activity is evolving, leading to new business models of connected fitness.” – A. Arana, SVP/General Manager Global Product, adidas (McKinsey & Company Sporting Goods 2021 report)

So, with sport retail, leisure centres & gyms, and sporting events due to gradually reopen during 2021, how much has changed? How have brands responded to these new trends? And what should sport retail businesses be prepared for?

The post-match analysis

According to the latest McKinsey & Company report (Sporting goods 2021), it’s now time to embrace the “Next Normal”.

The report surveyed over 400 brand leaders, to identify the trends that will shape the industry and, importantly, which brands showed signs of being the “Next Normal” winners when retail, leisure & sporting events reopen their doors.

“The change in consumer behavior will last after Covid-19— there will be no return to the old-normal.” – C. Browne, COO, Under Armour (McKinsey & Company Sporting Goods 2021 report)

The Sporting goods 2021 McKinsey & Company report identified four key indicators of a “Next Normal” winner:

1. They have an excellent D2C business model

Including a proprietary e-commerce and seamless omnichannel offering, powered by a cutting-edge back-end (expertise, fast development cycles, and omnichannel capabilities)

2. They maintain a direct connection to consumers

During this time of retail closures and shift to online sales, businesses have needed to maintain a close connection to their customers to stay relevant. This can be achieved through digital communities, loyalty programs and the like.

3. They continually revisit their supply chain relationships

As with many industries, keeping a close eye on supply chain efficiency has been an important factor to keep heads above water during this uncertain period. Sporting goods retailers have needed built-in agility to be able to keep up with the supply and demand of new product trends, by both switching between and adding new trading partners.

4. They have demonstrated agility in their supply chain/planning and budgeting

From wholesale businesses to D2C it has been imperative to respond quickly to changes in the market environment (including the potential re-emergence of COVID-19), and this is made a whole lot easier when taking advantage of EDI software capabilities.

The right ‘resistance’ equipment

Maintaining agility throughout the pandemic as well as planning for any future uncertainty is clearly a key marker for business success during 2021 and beyond. That’s why EDI for sports retail & leisure businesses could be the key to getting a ‘one-up’ on their competitors…

One way to do this would be to ‘future-proof’ the supply chain by taking advantage of EDI capabilities. Electronic data interchange, or EDI, can help support business resistance to periods of uncertainty – caused by pandemics, Brexit, or other unforeseen situations. EDI for sports retail & leisure businesses allows them to react to changing businesses landscapes seamlessly by changing and onboarding new trading partners without disruption to business.

Key benefits of Transalis eDI™ for sports retail & leisure businesses

Visibility: businesses have a complete overview of their supply chain, identifying challenges and managing errors

Transparency: Transalis eDI™ solutions cater for all business needs depending on the size and complexity of the supply chain and level of integration, with no hidden costs

Efficiency: EDI automates the supply chain processing, bypassing those human errors – which are costly in both time and money.

For more information on EDI solutions and Transalis eDI™, check out our EDI product bundles at You can also get in contact with our expert team on 0845 123 3746 or +44 1978 369 343 (for international callers), and reach out via email