This was written the morning after debates between Canadian party leaders and American vice president candidates devoted significant chunks of time to an economy that is taking people on both sides of the border, and all over the world for that matter, on a stomach-turning roller-coaster ride.
That very same day, the Toronto Stock Exchange fell a dramatic 814 points to finish below 11,000 for the first time in over two years, wiping out more than $100-billion in stock value in the process while the loonie dropped to its lowest level in a year and a half.
Along with this comes a warning about severe drops in commodities, which means that even oil-rich Alberta could start to feel the effects of a sputtering economy that has already hit the Canadian manufacturing heartland of Ontario hard.
All of this scary stuff comes about three weeks before Halloween and with Canadian buying shows about to get underway in just over a week in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ottawa.
“I think it’s going to be a topic of conversation when everybody comes in the booth,” admitted Gary Pollock, director of golf sales for Tournament Sports, which distributes Tour Edge, Nancy Lopez, Bridgestone and Antigua products in Canada.
Through discussions he’s had with Nevada Bob’s/Sport Chek and Green Grass One buyers, Pollock believes that the mood prior to the shows is calm but cautious, at least right now. “I really don’t think the mood has changed yet,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be steady as she goes. I don’t think you’re going to see a tremendous amount of upswing in what guys are purchasing.”
The calm in the golf industry may be for several reasons. For one thing, golf professionals are trying to make up for lost time caused by bad weather across the country earlier this season and are now dealing with staffing issues with many part-time summer workers now back in school.
Also, buying has changed over the past several years with many on-course shops getting out of hard goods and concentrating more on apparel, golf balls, gloves and other accessories these days, taking the edge off the impact caused by cutbacks at the green grass level.
If a shop is still dealing in hard goods, it may be forced into a decision to use one company instead of two at the premium price point level, for example.
“For them to be competitive, they have to get their maximum discounts, so they’re going to have to choose one or the other (company), right now,” said Pollock. “The bulk of the business, especially in hard goods, isn’t done at the pro shop level. In fact, it’s a lot lower than people think it is.”
So, there may be some adjustments that need to be done by green grass shops, but the caution that’s out there has not elevated to the wild mood swings of the market – at least not yet.
“I don’t think it will be that volatile,” said Pollock. “I think this is where you really find out who the good pros are and if they know their members. They plan forward with a specific plan based on the needs and wants of their members and those guys are pretty sharp operators.”
Pollock admits, however, that it is a delicate situation that could change quickly if we keep getting bombarded with dark economic news.
“We’ve adjusted what we think is going to happen, but who’s to say that something doesn’t happen in the next three weeks that changes all of that again?” he said.
“I think the economic news down in the U.S., if it keeps getting worse and worse and worse and worse, that will reflect itself by the time you get to Halifax at the end.”