Delayed effect: Last season’s weak winter begins to bite outdoor manufacturers - SNEWS

Delayed effect: Last season’s weak winter begins to bite outdoor manufacturers

A season ago, the “winter that wasn’t” hit outdoor retailers hard. Now it's catching up with outdoor manufacturers. Even if the snow falls hard this season, find out why outdoor and wintersports brands won't benefit right away.

A season ago, the “winter that wasn’t” hit outdoor retailers hard.

Sales of wintersports apparel and gear fell a combined 8 percent across specialty, chain and Internet channels for the 2011/12 season (August through March), compared to the previous year, according to SIA RetailTRAK figures provided by Leisure Trends.

Outdoor manufacturers, however, reported relatively stable or improved figures in the midst of last winter. Sales for The North Face brand rose 20 percent in the fourth quarter 2011 and were up 14 percent in first quarter 2012, for example.

Fast forward to about a year later and present day, the results are beginning to flip flop. Retailers are coming off a strong spring and summer, and even early wintersports retail sales are up 1 percent to start the 2012/13 season in August and September, likely due to some pent up demand SIA RetailTRAK officials said.

The positive preseason sales helped specialty retailers whittle away at high leftover wintersports inventories, which stood at a whopping 30 percent higher for apparel and equipment and 14 percent higher for accessories at the end of last season.

But truth be told, retailers aren’t out of the woods yet — “inventories are still fatter with 11 percent more equipment and apparel units and 4 percent more accessories units,” SIA RetailTRAK officials said.

And that’s what’s beginning to change the story for outdoor manufactures this fall. While many brands were able to benefit a year ago by completing most of their wintersports orders before the lack of snow and cold became apparent to consumers and retailers, they’re now facing the negative effects of that overselling.

Flush with wintersports inventory, retailers have cut back their demand. Pre-orders for 2012/13 wintersports equipment is down 13 percent in the early going, according to Amer Sports, parent to Solomon and Atomic.

The North Face saw its third-quarter 2012 sales increase just 5 percent in the third quarter this year, compared to 22 percent last year, and while officials blamed most of that on Europe’s economic troubles, VF Outdoor President Steve Rendle noted that “wholesale order moved closer to need based on last year’s warm winter.”

At Wolverine World Wide, President and CEO Blake Krueger recently told investors that third-quarter 2012 sales fell for its Merrell brand, as “outdoor retailers have struggled to deal with the impact of last year's unusually warm fall and winter.”

Jarden CEO James E. Lillie, parent to Marmot, K2 and Volkl, blamed the 7 percent drop in for the company’s outdoor group in the third quarter 2012 on “year-over-year, weather-related revenue impact.”

The delayed effect from last winter’s woes isn’t a surprise to most manufactures — many have been able to curtail production in anticipation — but just like retailers, some brands tell SNEWS they are beholden to long lead times with their production schedules and facilities overseas, and its tough to stop a charging train. (SNEWS covered the issue of long lead times and earlier ordering at last year’s Winter Market, click here to read the story).

So continue to expect slightly softer results from outdoor manufacturers this winter, even if the snow and cold return. And if it’s a banner year, crossing fingers, we’ll likely see the entire picture flip itself again. Retailers will be rushing to restock next season, but manufacturers might be a little slim on product.

At least by spring 2013, things should improve for season-diversified outdoor manufacturers. Remember that this past spring/summer was particularly long and strong for retailers with many starting the season’s business early and extending it late into the warm Indian summer. For that side of calendar, expect to see retail preseason orders up next year.

-- David Clucas



Weak winter hurts Sport Chalet earnings

Sport Chalet (Nasdaq:SPCHA) blamed unseasonably warm and dry winter weather for a 2 percent decline in same store sales and a widening quarterly loss. The outdoor and fitness retailer said sales of winter-related merchandise fell 21.8 percent for its fiscal 2012 third quarter, more


Weak winter meets strong spring: February outdoor retail sales mixed

Spring arrived a month early for outdoor retailers this year, as many shops began selling warmer-weather items in February to make up for the weak winter. It worked to some extent, with the latest outdoor sales data showing mixed results for February. Leisure Trends Group more


Weak winter hurts Big 5’s 4Q results

Outdoor, fitness and sporting goods retailer Big 5 (Nasdaq:BGFV) blamed warmer winter temperatures and a lack of snow for a 2.1 percent decrease in same-store sales for the fourth quarter 2011. The national retailer’s fourth-quarter revenue came in unchanged at $226.7 million, more

Outdoor financials: Amer Sports sales hit by weak U.S. dollar

Amer Sports sales hit by weak U.S. dollar The weakening U.S. dollar slammed Amer Sports Group's net sales for the second quarter and six-month period, while its winter and outdoor business segment reported sales increases and narrowed losses for the same periods. Amer Sports is more


Summer ends well for outdoor retailers; fitness and wintersports prep for busy season

Labor Day means the busy shopping season is coming to a close for some outdoor retailers and many reported it was a good summer for business. The economic figures back the story, showing outdoor retail outpaced overall retail sales. Meanwhile, fitness and wintersports equipment more


Timberland begins to shine for VF Outdoor

VF Corp. the parent company of The North Face, Timberland and numerous other outdoor and wintersport brands reported an 11 percent rise in third-quarter sales for its Outdoor and Action Sports segment. Group profit rose 13 percent to $475 million. Leading the way for the group more


Merrell 3Q sales slip on weak outdoor retail, parent firm Wolverine Worldwide lowers 2012 expectations

Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW), parent to Merrell, Chaco, Patagonia Footwear and now Saucony brands, reported lower revenue and profit for the third quarter 2012, citing weakness in outdoor retail and Europe. Wolverine’s Outdoor group, a highlight for the company during past more


September outdoor retail sales mixed heading into holiday season

After a strong spring and summer, outdoor retail sales moderated in September — by how much, depends on whose data you follow. Leisure Trends Group reported a 6 percent increase in outdoor sales in September, versus a year ago, while OIA VantagePoint figures relayed a more more

Outdoor financials: K2's Q3 results foreshadow 'good winter season,' Helly Hansen sold, Timberland, Columbia, Deckers, Amer Sports, Liz Claiborne, West Marine, GSI, Wellman, Crocs, VF

K2's Q3 results foreshadow 'good winter season'K2 Inc. (NYSE: KTO) said its third-quarter net income rose 29 percent, helped by record sales of winter gear including skis, snowboards and performance apparel. Included among its numerous brands are Volkl, Marker, Marmot, Ex more