Latin America remains a relatively small and slow-growing market for sportswear, affected by the recent economic crises in Argentina and Brazil. However, as the global health and wellness trend and the casualisation of dress codes encourage Latin Americans to adopt new lifestyles, they are increasingly purchasing performance and sports-inspired apparel and footwear, with economic recoveries and the development of internet retailing expected to accelerate this growth going forward.
Latin America was the world’s fifth largest sportswear market in 2018, with sales exceeding those of only Australasia and Eastern Europe. The global health and wellness trend has, however, helped to increase sales of sportswear in recent years, as Latin Americans increase participation in athletic activities, driven by the opening of affordable fitness clubs throughout the region.
Currency devaluations and decreased consumer buying power as a result of the ongoing economic crises in Argentina and Brazil have negatively impacted sportswear sales in these markets in recent years, with major global players closing local factories in favour of foreign imports, further raising prices.
Throughout Latin America, independent local producers, secondary markets and counterfeit products continue to present obstacles for local and global brands seeking to establish a firm footing in the market. As a result, adidas and Nike remain isolated in their leadership across markets, bolstered by wide distribution and strong brand recognition, thanks to years of athlete sponsorships.
Retail channel distribution varies across Latin American countries, influenced by local cultural preferences and consumer habits. Across markets, however, internet retailing has been the most dynamic channel, and has been largely immune to the economic crises in Argentina and Brazil, thanks to consumers’ ability to compare prices across retailers.
As Mexican consumers increasingly wear sportswear for both athletic and everyday use, sales in Mexico will overtake those in the declining Brazil, to become Latin America’s largest sportswear market by 2020.
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