Chilly spring cools watersport sales at Johnson Outdoor, boating shoes at Wolverine, but outdoor sales rise

The winter guys love a cool and wet spring, but spring and summer brands could use some more sunshine.

Brands can never win with Mother Nature.

Sure, it was a great winter season in most of the United States, but going onto what now amounts to two cooler spring seasons in a row, it’s having an effect on early warm-weather product sales.

Officials with camping and watersports brand Johnson Outdoor and footwear maker Wolverine Worldwide noted the challenges in the first quarter 2014 earnings this past week.

"Unpredictable weather conditions are always challenging for the highly seasonal outdoor recreational industry, and this year's unusually long and frigid winter has shifted the pacing of customer orders," Johnson Outdoors CEO Helen Johnson-Leipold told investors, May 2.

Johnson Outdoors (Nasdaq:JOUT) reported its first-quarter 2014 (its fiscal second-quarter 2014) revenue down 6 percent to $124.3 million on lower sales of its watercraft (down 4 percent), marine electronics (down 7 percent) and diving (down 11 percent) categories. The company is parent to Necky Kayaks, Ocean Kayaks, Old Town Canoe and Hummingbird fishing electronics among others in the space.

On the bright side its outdoor division sales, which includes brands Eureka and Jetboil, climbed 9 percent due primarily to higher military tent sales.

The same story could be seen over at Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE:WWW), where officials reported a 2.8 percent decline in first-quarter 2014 sales to $627.6 million. Largely due to lower sales of its warmer-weather, boating and lifestyle shoe offerings such as from Sperry Top-Sider and Stride Rite.

Meanwhile, its performance group, which includes Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Cushe and Patagonia Footwear, saw a 3.4 percent rise in sales to $248.8 million in the first quarter, driven largely by Merrell, Saucony and Chaco.

“Merrell is back on her growth track and we believe its momentum will accelerate throughout the balance of 2014 and into 2015,” Wolverine Worldwide CEO Blake Krueger said.

--David Clucas



What’s tripping up footwear sales

Two steps forward, one step back. Footwear was the big savior for many outdoor brands and retailers on the heels of the recession. Fast-moving trends — be it minimalist, Vibram Five Fingers, Crocs, Uggs or Sanuks — skyrocketed sales while lower import tariffs fueled higher more