HomeSportsWomen's sports shirt sales rise fast but availability a problem, says Klarna

Women’s sports shirt sales rise fast but availability a problem, says Klarna

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A disparity in sports merchandise availability between female and male consumers comes to light in a report with one key takeaway suggesting that retailers are failing to capitalise on strong and growing demand from women.

JD Sports/Nike

First, on the plus side, women’s football shirt sales in the UK are up 17% in the past year, more than double (8%) the rate for men, according merchandise purchased via global payments platform Klarna

However, in a partnership survey with fan intelligence company Sports Innovation Lab, despite this growth and the record-breaking levels of women’s fan engagement in sports in the UK, merchandise supply fails to meet demand, with eight out of 10 female fans saying they would buy more if there were more options available.

This situation was highlighted in the run-up to the last Women’s World Cup when the England goalkeeping jersey worn by Mary Earls wasn’t made available by team kit provider, Nike, causing widespread condemnation. It said it didn’t expect high demand.

The report titled raises awareness around gender-based gaps in women’s sports merchandise availability. 

The report’s key findings show that female fans are hungry for options, with 78% of those surveyed reporting they would purchase more women’s sports merchandise if more options were available to them. T-shirts, sweatshirts and team kits were the top items fans say they want more of.

Meanwhile, 39% of women’s sports fans want more availability of popular items, with 46% wanting a wider range of options and 25% wanting more athlete-specific designs.

When it comes to retailers, 28% of fans want more clarity on where to find women’s sports merchandise and one-third purchase at unofficial retailers due to more availability.

Also, women’s sports merch buyers are nearly twice as likely as men’s to have trouble finding a style they like and 79% report a noticeable gap between men’s and women’s sports merchandise citing disparities in variety (52%), availability (47%) and quality (36%).

“Consumer appetite for league, team, and athlete merchandise is vastly exceeding supply,” said Angela Ruggiero, co-founder of Sports Innovation Lab. “There is a golden opportunity for retailers to capitalise on a surging market that is telling us if you create something authentic to the community, they will buy it.”

Based on its results, Klarna says it has worked with global football media brand COPA90 to launch new merchandise including a football shirt and T-shirt. The merchandise features the phrase ‘Rep Her’ to symbolise “the growing influence of women’s sports and celebrates fans’ passion”.

Additionally, it has also launched an official merchandise hub, “simplifying the shopping process for fans seeking women’s official football merchandise.

“There is a wide-open goal for any sportswear brand who caters to the women’s sports boom, but surprisingly, not enough are stepping up just yet.. So we launched this research to raise awareness of the Merch Gap and goad the big brands into serving female sports fans.” says Megan Gokey, Klarna’s Head of B2C Marketing & Brand Partnerships. 

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