OIA Topline Retail Sales Report offers revealing peek at last six months

Outdoor Industry Association released the results of its semi-annual Topline Retail Sales report on Nov. 7. The report focuses on point-of-sale data for five outdoor product categories (equipment, equipment accessories, apparel, footwear and paddle) collected over the spring/summer season (February through July 2005) through the outdoor specialty, outdoor chain and, for the first time, the outdoor Internet/catalog channels.
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Outdoor Industry Association released the results of its semi-annual Topline Retail Sales report on Nov. 7. The report focuses on point-of-sale data for five outdoor product categories (equipment, equipment accessories, apparel, footwear and paddle) collected over the spring/summer season (February through July 2005) through the outdoor specialty, outdoor chain and, for the first time, the outdoor Internet/catalog channels.

According to OIA's report, sales in the specialty and chain channels increased just over 3 percent during the spring/summer season compared to the same period in 2004 -- $2,881,538,636 compared to $2,797,221,338. Outdoor specialty sales remained basically flat, increasing only 1 percent from $995,025,139 in 2004 to $1,005,182,732 in 2005. Outdoor chain sales bumped up a slightly more respectable 4 percent, from $1,802,196,199 in 2004 to $1,876,355,904 in 2005.

The majority of growth was driven by increased sales in the apparel category (up 3.1 percent in specialty and 16 percent in chain) and footwear categories (up 16.5 percent in specialty and 6.7 percent in chain). Total sales for the apparel category eclipsed $1 billion and represented 34.7 percent of all revenue and 32 percent of all sales for outdoor. Specialty store apparel sales grew 3 percent in dollars and 3 percent in volume. Interestingly, chain stores experienced a 16 percent jump in dollars on only a 4.2 percent climb in numbers, indicating chain store were selling higher-priced garments, or simply weren't discounting as much.

In footwear, specialty dollars increased 16.5 percent while volume jumped 25.4 percent, indicative of an increase in shoes being sold at lower price points. Not necessarily a good trend for specialty.

In the equipment categories, accessory sales represented 25.6 percent of all revenue with revenue dipping 4 percent in chain stores and 1.6 percent in specialty. While units continued to decline, OIA reports that the average selling price of an accessory item is trending upward, offsetting overall dollar losses.

While equipment represents 13.2 percent of revenue and 12 percent of all unit sales for outdoor, sales continue to decline. Specialty is down 12 percent in revenue and 20 percent in volume, while chain is down 7 percent in revenue and 12 percent in volume. Interestingly, in the first time tracking the category in the Internet/catalog realm, sales here represent 17.7 percent of revenue and 12 percent of volume. It is reasonable to assume that some losses at both specialty and chain can be attributed to sales volume and numbers on the Internet and through catalogs.

Finally, in paddlesports, the category represents 8 percent of overall revenues and 2 percent of overall volume. Interestingly, specialty stores account for 80 percent of all paddlesports revenue and 75 percent of unit volume. Unfortunately, specialty sales dipped 2 percent in revenue and 14 percent in units sold. The good news there is that it appears paddlesports products were selling at a higher dollar margin. Chain stores increased its grasp on the paddlesports category by jumping sales dollars 4.7 percent and volume 10 percent.

Making sense of the categories
Since it is helpful to know what OIA means when it refers to outdoor chain or specialty chain or consumer research estimates, SNEWS® put together a quick synopsis defining the categories. Since Internet/catalog is fairly obvious, there's no need to elaborate here.

Specialty stores are defined by the type of merchandise they carry. These are single and multiple store retail organizations that concentrate their merchandise mix at medium and high price points. These are typically, though not always, found to have fronts geographically concentrated around a few metropolitan areas with generally more technical gear and apparel, higher price points that are branded and designed for the enthusiast end user.

Outdoor chain stores are represented by national outdoor chain and sporting goods chain retailers and are defined as stores that tend to sell authentic merchandise in the mid-tier of technical product and mid-priced products. The sporting good chain stores tend to sell merchandise at lower price points, the introductory tier of technical products and products designed for a moderately active end user. Examples of stores OIA considers to be in this category include EMS, REI and The Sports Authority.

Consumer estimates are simply that, estimates based on survey data. Since the Leisure Trends Group does not receive POS data from mass merchants and discounters, such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Target, nor from department stores such as Macy's and Nordstrom, estimates of total dollars sold by category are derived from questions asked as part of LeisureTRAK, an on-going study of Americans' leisure time behavior and attitudes. During 2004 and 2005, 4,000 telephone interviews were conducted using scientific sampling and random digit dial methodology. Comparisons are made between 2004 and 2005 (2000 sample in each year) and results are projectable to the American population, age 16 and over, with a margin of error of +/- 2.1% at the 95% confidence level.

Who collects the data
Leisure Trends, under contract with OIA, is responsible for collecting the POS data. Leisure Trends only collects POS data from outdoor stores, and does not collect data for this study from fly-fishing retailers, ski retailers or bike retailers, even though it is acknowledged that many of those might also sell outdoor gear.

OIA provides the complete Topline Retail Sales Report as a member benefit at no additional cost. If you are not an OIA member, the SNEWS® team recommends you become one today. For more information go to www.outdoorindustry.org or call 303-444-3353.

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