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Argos topped online sales for sports and outdoor gear in 2020

Research by betting firm Wette.de has found Argos was the top retailer for online sales of sports-based and outdoor goods during the height of the pandemic

Argos was the leader for online sales of sports goods and outdoor products in the UK in 2020, according to research by Wette.de.

The betting firm found that Argos made $541m in net e-commerce sales in 2020 for sports and outdoor gear, higher than some of the leading sports retailers in the UK, including Sports Direct, Nike and Adidas.

The retailer even outperformed Amazon for online sales in sports and outdoor gear in the UK in 2020, with Amazon making $367m in net online sales for the segment.

Rex Pascual, editor at Wette.de, said: “2020 was a big year for e-commerce and the sports and outdoor segment was one that grew tremendously from it. In the UK, popular retailer Argos generated half a billion dollars in e-commerce net sales in 2020, beating out sporting giants like Nike and Adidas. Argos had a robust e-commerce presence well before the pandemic struck which proved to be very beneficial during the lockdowns of 2020.”

As consumers were forced to stay at home by lockdowns in the early part of the pandemic, there was a surge on online sales for various market segments as people settled into lives spent predominantly at home.

Many retailers saw an increase in online demand in 2020, including Tesco, Ocado and Amazon, and in many cases their performance and ability to cope with this surge depended on their pre-pandemic online remit.

The pandemic proved beneficial for smaller businesses, as well as some retail verticals such as luxury goods and electricals, whereas other segments, such as clothing, suffered.

As gyms closed because of lockdown, and people were forced to work from home, the popularity of sports gear for home gyms increased in 2020, and the top 10 online sports and outdoor providers made a total of $2.67bn during the year.

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While Argos topped the list of online sales for sports and outdoor goods in the UK in 2020, it was closely followed by Sportsdirect.com, which made $423m in net online sales for the segment. Nike came third with $404m, followed by Amazon with $367m and Adidas.co.uk with $242m.

At the bottom of the list were retailers which, much like Argos, would not traditionally be thought of as go-to retailers for sports or outdoor goods – online fashion retailer Very.co.uk saw $192m in net online sales for sports and outdoor goods, followed by supermarket Tesco.com with $152m and Halfords with $146m.

John Lewis came ninth with net online sales of $106m for the sports and outdoor segment in 2020 and JD Sports was tenth with $100m.

There is no doubt that customer behaviour has shifted online over the last few years. Technology was seen as a way to adapt to consumers’ waning interest in bricks-and-mortar retail even before Covid-19 forced more people to navigate life online, and was increasingly used as a way to drive sales for retailers as the pandemic accelerated changing footfall.

For many, this change in habits is set to continue even when the pandemic subsides because people have become used to new routines.

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