Lower temps drive March outdoor sales higher

The cool and snowy start to spring 2013 may be weighing on your nerves, but outdoor retailers aren’t complaining. Find out how strong outdoor retail s
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The cool and snowy start to spring 2013 may be getting on your nerves, but outdoor retailers aren’t complaining.


Lower-than-normal temperatures throughout much of the country in March helped drive consumers to buy more cold-weather apparel and hardgoods, boosting overall outdoor retail sales by 13 percent, according to Leisure Trends Group, and by 7.6 percent, according to OIA VantagePoint.

The upward trending figures from the two separate data analyst groups suggest that gains from a lengthened winter are trumping any declines from a delayed spring.

Outdoor apparel sales continued to lead the way, rising 16.6 percent with cooler temperatures driving outerwear tops later into the spring, compared to last year, according to OIA VantagePoint, which partners with SportsOneSource on its data.

Hardgoods sales also continued to increase — although their gains began to trail off as the ski season concluded — but encouraging were increases in hydration, technical packs, cycling products and climbing/mountaineering equipment, according to OIA VantangePoint, suggesting consumers were looking forward to spring, even though consistent warmer temperatures were held at bay.

Footwear sales rose for the first time this year, OIA VantagePoint officials said, rising 4.3 percent overall, thanks to a 23 percent increase in comfort/casual shoes, while sandals and barefoot/natural running footwear lagged, likely due to the colder weather.

And no surprise, headwear, handwear and undergarments were big winners in March — all up 25 percent or more over last year, as consumers looked to keep warm.


March outdoor sales were strong across all sales channels, according to Leisure Trends officials. Internet sales grew 19 percent, chain stores were up 14 percent and specialty store sales climbed 8 percent.

“As a whole, the outdoor industry looks healthy,” said Leisure Trends Group Senior Retail Analyst Tom Jones. “The just-completed first quarter grew 13 percent over 2012, and this is the third year in the last four in which we have seen double-digit first-quarter growth.”

 --David Clucas