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New Study from SIGNA Sports United and Boston Consulting Group Reports $1.1 Trillion Global Sports Market and Predicts 3.5 Billion in Global Sports Participation by 2025

New Insights Highlight Attractive Growth Characteristics of Sports E-commerce and Advantages of Online Vertical Sports Specialists

SIGNA Sports United (SSU), the leading sports e-commerce and tech platform, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), today shared a new report predicting global sports participation will reach 3.5 billion people by 2025 and puts the size of the global sports market today at $1.1 trillion. Sports in the Digital Age — How Online Vertical Specialists and Brand Direct-to-Consumer Outpace Generalist Sports Retail highlights the opportunity for online vertical specialists to win at sports e-commerce over the coming years.

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Sports in the Digital Age showcased the large size and strong growth of the global sports market. The report also provides insights on how increased participation in sports is fuelling e-commerce penetration and adoption of digital innovations, like wearables. It also expands into the shift to e-commerce in sports retail and the impacts of COVID-19 on the industry. The report, which included a survey of 19,000 consumers across four countries (US, UK, France, Germany) from January to March 2021, paired with expert interviews, found that:

  • Participation in sports is growing fast. Global sports participation is expected to increase by one billion people by 2025, reaching 3.5 billion people. This makes sports the second most common global leisure activity after travelling, with 35% of the world’s population participating in sports at least once a month.
  • Sports is being digitized. Adoption of digital innovations such as wearables – In 2020, there were over 830 million people globally are using wearables or fitness apps. 56% of all sports people expect to adopt wearables in the future, mainly to measure their performance, to educate themselves about a healthy lifestyle or to take part in online training sessions.
  • Global sports is a $1.1 trillion global market and growing. Sports retail is the largest part of the sports market, accounting for $475 billion of spending and anticipated to grow 7% annually to reach $670 billion in 2025 – at 1.4x the rate of GDP growth.
  • Continued double-digit growth rates for sports e-commerce. Sports e-commerce is expected to experience double-digit compound growth rates over the next five years, growing 3x as fast as sports offline retail, climbing to 30% online sales share globally.
  • Winning strategies: be big or be an online category champion. Besides going direct-to-consumer as a sports brands, the two other strategies to win at sports -ecommerce are to be the largest retailer or to specialize in verticals. Specialized online sports retailers are 2 to 3 times more likely to be the preferred shopping destination for equipment intense sports such as biking, tennis, golf, horseback riding or winter sports. Additionally, consumers spend more with online vertical sports specialists.

Stephan Zoll, CEO of SIGNA Sports United commented, “With BCG, we developed exceptional insights on the future of global sports retail. Together, we were able to shine a light on how the past and present are affecting the future of sports retail. At SIGNA Sports United we are observing first-hand the importance consumers place on assortment and specialist guidance and are able to provide unique platform solutions for the sports ecosystem.”

Volker Haemmerle, Managing Director and Partner at BCG and global expert for sporting goods commented, “It is imperative that sports retailers understand the consumer mindset and unique opportunities for growth when making critical business decisions. By partnering with SIGNA Sports United on this study, we are able to develop predictions that help sports retailers prepare for the future and better serve their customers.”

For additional insights, download the Sports in the Digital Age infographic.

About SIGNA Sports United

SIGNA Sports United, based in Berlin, Germany, is Europe’s leading, fast-growing and profitable sports commerce and tech platform in the categories of Bike, Tennis, Outdoor and Team Sports, with more than 4 million active customers and over 300 million visitors annually. SSU brings together brands such as, Bikester, Probikeshop, Campz, Addnature, Tennis-Point, Outfitter and Stylefile. More than 1,000 brand partners, 500+ independent offline retailers and more than 15 million digital sports community members are connected to SSU’s platform.

About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.

Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.


Signa Sports United Media Contact

Alison Fichter, Public Relations


(+001) 312 635 8200

Boston Consulting Group Media Contact

Anca Webber

Global Media Relations Senior Manager

+44 7 342 083 718

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