Although consumer confidence struggled in the third quarter (and on the heels of the government shutdown), the wholesale tennis equipment market did have a bright spot, as shipments of Red, Orange and Green (ROG) tennis balls showed significant growth versus a year earlier. Manufacturer wholesale shipments of ROG balls into various distribution channels for the consumer market were up a combined 21.8% over Q3 of 2012.
ROG balls are used in Youth Tennis programs and are being adapted for adult programs, as well. As a result of the rise in shipments, wholesale dollar shipments also increased versus Q3 of 2012, up 19% in the dollar amount of units shipped into the market to go onto shelves for retail sale.
Although total ball sales overall lagged behind in Q3 2013, the ROG category shows positive signs of stable and continued growth as year-to-date unit growth is up 14% versus 2012 and wholesale dollars show a 9% increase over last year.
"We thought at some point we'd see a slowing in the growth of the ROG ball categories," says TIA Exectuive Director Jolyn de Boer, "however, there seems to be sustained interest in this equipment segment as the entire industry continues to rally around efforts to grow the youth tennis participation base, as well as come up with innovative ideas to keep adults and seniors engaged with the sport."
The changes below in each ball category reflect a percentage change over the same period last year (Q3 2013 vs. Q3 2012):
- Green Balls - +37.3%
- Orange Balls - +21.6%
- Red Felt Balls - +34.4%
- Red Foam Balls - (-29.3%)
It's also worth noting that the decline in Red Foam Ball shipments is likely due to the fact that for the last two years, the industry has been encouraging use of Red Felt, rather than Red Foam.
The data above is derived from the Tennis Industry Association's quarterly census shipment report which collects wholesale "sell-in" data from tennis ball suppliers to create an aggregated wholesale market report for tennis balls. For questions regarding TIA research, please visit TennisIndustry.org/research or contact the TIA research department at firstname.lastname@example.org