While Europe and the USA are still situated in a complete corona lockdown, news from China just before Easter gave cause for optimism. After almost three months of curfews, the megacity of Wuhan returned to normality. Shopping centres are open again. This is also good news for sports brands and sports clubs in China.
The Chinese Super League, China's top football league, hopes that in May it will actually be able to make up for the start of the season originally planned for 22 February.
"With every cancelled match, sport is further weakened economically, ticket revenues and jersey sales have already plummeted massively. It is a test for leaders and managers in the industry, but also for athletes and participants," said Simon Chadwick, an expert on sports policy in China, to the Al Jazeera broadcaster. Organisers kept themselves busy with online streams of eSports events.
Thanks to online activities sporting goods brands have tried to minimize the losses incurred as a result of the crisis. Many major international sports brands were able to significantly increase their online business in China via the e-commerce platform Tmall in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year (Adidas + 16%, Nike +26%, PUMA +44%, FILA +50%, The North Face +17%, Arc'teryx +20%).
"All sports brands should pay even more attention to digitalization. Although the virus prevents people from going outside, they still need sport or maybe even more. A short video on Tik Tok, live streaming on Amazon or Tmall and running together in the online community can help brands keep in touch with consumers. And then sell products online," says Danny He, China manager at the sports industry platform ISPO.
Top performer Nike managed to keep losses in China in the fiscal quarter up to February 29, 2020 at only four percent compared to the same period last year. And this despite the fact that up to 75 percent of all Nike stores in China were closed at peak times of the corona epidemic.
Meanwhile most sports shops in China have reopened. In addition more and more gyms and sports halls are offering people to exercise again.
China benefits now from the fact that even before the virus outbreak, at least in the cities, most people were already wearing mouth and nose protection. Now worning by practically everyone in public - whether on public transport or during shopping in a shopping centre.
The Chinese economy has now returned to almost normal levels. According to data from the Beijing statistics office, imports fell by only 0.9 percent to 165.25 billion dollars in March. In the first two months of the year, the minus had been four percent. In order to cope with the economic slump in the times of the Corona standstill, the Chinese government had instructed banks to give cheap loans to companies in the sports business.
Shop rents for February and March have been deferred or waived. This way, a larger number of insolvencies could be avoided. After the major slump, the sports industry in the Middle Kingdom is now hoping for catch-up effects from customers. In summer and in winter. The premature termination of the winter sports season had caused the Chinese ski resorts to lose the equivalent of around one billion euros in sales.
In view of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the winter sports industry is now hoping for a boom in the coming winter. This is also important for the sports industry in Europe and the rest of the world: Optimism is a duty even in the greatest crisis! This is why planning for Chinese top sports industry trade fairs ISPO Shanghai (3 to 5 July 2020) and ISPO Beijing (14 to 16 January 2021) continues to run at full speed.