ORLANDO, Florida – The 69th edition of PGA Merchandise Show scheduled Jan. 25 – 28, 2022 in Orlando is the worst case scenario Reed Exhibitions and The PGA of America each have feared for years!
Coming off a record-setting year in golf equipment and apparel sales – and without a 2021 PGA Merchandise Show postponed due to Covid-19 – several of the golf industry’s top companies have elected to pass on the 2022 PGA Merchandise Show.
Those companies include Titleist/FootJoy parent Acushnet, Callaway TaylorMade, Wilson and Tour Edge. Among the A-list of golf manufacturers committed are Bridgestone, Cobra and Ping.
For four decades, Reed Exhibitions and the PGA of America have pumped up the PGA Show as the barometer and springboard to a successful sales season. For most of those years, company executives and industry rank-and-file bought into it, or at least pretended they did.
However, things have changed. For the past 20 years, company executives have publicly praised the Show for its unifying nature; but behind the scenes many questioned the Show’s relevance as a vehicle to sell product thus increasing profits and market share.
Since 1995, the Show has evolved into an exhibition, as opposed to the trade show it was originally founded to be. From the mid-1990s to today, product cycles accelerated from one major introduction per year to as many as three or more for some companies.
Companies began selling next year’s top products as early as late August the previous year, meaning most major retail accounts and green grass accounts had ordered hardgoods before the Show even began. The running joke with one equipment company CEO was, that if a salesperson had record sales at the Show, he or she would be fired for not doing the job in the fall.
Bottom Line: The PGA Merchandise Show has had importance as a significant selling tool for a long time but it has devolved in an event that is “nice to do’’ instead of a “need to do.’’
Is there a negative impact from the absences of Callaway, Titleist, etc.? Will the 2022 “exhibition” likely reduce attendees? For sure, the long-term impact is what Reed and the PGA are concerned about, especially after a record year in 2021 in terms of equipment sales, without a Show last January due to Covid!
There are a many moving factors between the 2022 Show and the 2023 Show. Will challenges continue with raw materials? Will supply chain difficulties ease up? If problems continue to affect manufacturing and inventory deep into 2022, how will that shake out for 2023?
The answer is that more equipment companies and vendors will bail out of the Show in future years to avoid the cost. It’s a very expensive endeavor to attend the Show, which raises the almighty money question: Is there a return on investment?
The health of the golf industry does not depend on the PGA Merchandise Show, despite the claim by Reed Expo and the PGA of America that for 68 years have labeled it a “success.’’