Outdoor: Did you hear?...

U.S. Census Bureau reports $15.5 billion in online sales, ASTM approves phase-change materials test, Outdoor Retailer summer show sold out, Kitty Bradley joins Stonewear Designs, plus much more....
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>> According to the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, online sales for the first quarter of 2004 reached $15.5 billion, a 28.1 percent increase over 2003 first-quarter sales, which were reported at $12.1 billion. Naturally, all is not glowing news, as the report from the Bureau also noted that online sales and brick-and-mortar retail sales were down in the first quarter as compared to 2003's fourth quarter. Total retail sales in first quarter 2004 dipped 8.5 percent and e-tail sales fell off by 11.4 percent when compared to fourth quarter 2003. E-commerce represents about 1.9 percent of total retail sales nationwide.

>> In related e-commerce news, DoubleClick (Nasdaq:DCLK) released its Q1 2004 E-Commerce Site Trend Report that showed consumers are spending more time in online stores and are converting into buyers more frequently than ever before. However, as with every bit of sun, there is a cloud on the horizon and that is the study also found consumers abandoning shopping carts more frequently than ever before. In addition, the data showed that non-buying customers still represent 95 percent of all website users and that repeat customers are the smallest segment of all, representing only one percent. Repeat customers are, however, the most valuable as they spend the most time online -- over seven minutes per session -- view more than 16 pages per session, and spend an average of $180 per purchase, a higher average than any other shopper. The data is based on 160 million unique visitors, 2.1 billion page views, 17.7 million online shopping carts, and $800 million in total e-commerce sales.

>> REI and Backpacker magazine have turned a good idea into a great one by co-sponsoring and coordinating the 2004 Campstove Cook-Off. Eight finalists from around the country have made the grade and will compete for the grand prize -- a guided trip for two from REI Adventures to the Grand Staircase National Monument -- on June 11 at Chatfield State Park just south of Denver. The event will be filmed by the Food Network for an hour-long special that will air later this year.

>> Jack Johnson along with his music and film companies, Brushfire Records and The Moonshine Conspiracy, have become the newest members of 1 Percent For The Planet. Johnson is perhaps best known for his CD's "Brushfire Fairytales" and "On and On." 1 Percent For The Planet is a non-profit organization founded by Yvon Chouinard, owner and founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of West Yellowstone-based Blue Ribbon Flies. Members of 1 Percent For The Planet contribute at least one percent of their net sales to environmental groups on a list of researched and approved environmental organizations. Member companies receive the right to use the 1 Percent For The Planet logo, indicating their commitment to contributing financial resources to the worldwide environmental movement. The 50 member companies represent diverse industries including publishers and media, health and fitness, travel, clothing and accessories, food and beverage, and, now, music and entertainment. Information on 1 Percent For The Planet is available at www.onepercentfortheplanet.org.

>> Time to talk to your company rep about sales incentives. Charlie Webb, a Colorado-based Thule and Atomic rep, has been giving away cars to sales associates for the past few years as a sales incentive. This year, Webb offered up a Porsche for a TSA incentive program and awarded it to Joe Timlin of the Avon, Colo., TSA store. To win the Porsche, Timlin racked up 380 entries for Thule and Atomic sales. Webb noted that, "Joe is an Atomic/Thule selling machine."

>> According to the latest findings from the NRF Executive Opinion Survey, a monthly report by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI) read 59.6 points, up 12.1 points from a year ago and up 1.4 points from the previous month (58.2). The RSPI measures retail executives' evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, average transaction per customer, employment, inventories and a six-month-ahead sales outlook expectation. The RSPI is based on a scale of 0.0-100.0 with 50.0 equaling normal. Retailers remained in the driver's seat in terms of pricing power in May. The Pricing Index set a new high with a reading of 59.6 points, slightly up from last month's 58.8 points. The Demand Outlook (a six-month outlook for sales) scored a 65.4, the highest number since the NRF started surveying executives in September 2002.

>> Reno's whitewater park is garnering more kudos following its very successful whitewater competition in mid-May. According to Kelley Woolsey, vice president of marketing and sales for Confluence Watersports, "The Reno River Fest was one of the best organized and run paddlesports events I have been to, not to mention attracting the largest crowds that I have ever seen at a paddlesports event, including the recent World's in Graz, Austria. With the whitewater park in town and recreational touring just up the road at Lake Tahoe, Reno is a great venue for paddlesports as well as an awesome venue to help grow the awareness of our sport."

>> The cost of summer fun is going up, according to the Dow Jones Summer Fun Index published recently in the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ looked at goods and services from "flip-flops to ferry rides" and then added up the prices of all the items in their basket to determine that the cost of having fun this summer is up 2.6 percent for consumers. Highlighted items include bug spray up 27 percent, kayak rental up 13 percent, sandals from L.L. Bean down 26 percent, and Nike sunglasses up 13 percent.

>> The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has approved a phase-change materials test -- ASTM D7024, otherwise known as the "Test Method for Steady State and Dynamic Thermal Performance in Textile Materials." Previous fabric and insulation tests for determining R-value (known as CLO value in the garment industry) did not take into account PCM (Phase Change Materials) technology or that technology's ability to respond to a dynamic environment by absorbing, storing and releasing energy. Garnering ASTM acceptance was critical for companies such as Outlast since, in theory, the ASTM standard provides solid scientific evidence that Outlast's products perform as it says they do.

>> Nick Brown of Nikwax Waterproofing contacted us to say the company has won the Queen's Award for International Trade. The Queen's Award is based upon sustained export achievement and is awarded to around 100 British companies per year. It is impossible to win this award more frequently than once every three or four years because the evidence is founded on three years of accounting information. Nikwax first won the award in 1996 and then again in 1999. As of last month, exports of Nikwax to 19 countries have grown more than 10 percent during the past 12 months. Included in that list are the United States and Canada. In addition, 14 countries have experienced export increases of Nikwax in excess of 20 percent, including China, Israel, Singapore, Romania, Japan, Iceland, Poland, South Africa, Austria, Italy, New Zealand, the Baltic States and Holland. Nikwax is sold in 41 countries.

>> No surprise here (see related Trade Show story in this week's SNEWS®), but we thought we'd let our readers know that Outdoor Retailer has officially announced that exhibiting space for Summer Market (Aug. 12-15) to be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, has officially sold out, with a waiting list of over 120 outdoor-related companies. The total number of brands with a pass to exhibit is now over 925, which represents a 4 percent increase over 2003 Summer Market. (Outdoor Retailer also listed that show as sold-out show -- which tells us either some booths are smaller, the expo company found more exhibit space by reconfiguring the Pavilion, or some folks are showing their wares in the bathrooms.) According to Outdoor Retailer, 94 companies are brand new to Summer Market. Each new company will be highlighted on the floor with a "New Exhibitor" flag at its booth. In addition to the flags, Outdoor Retailer has said it will provide a comprehensive list of new exhibiting companies, with booth numbers, at the registration counter.

>> Omega Pacific sales rep Mark Wilford and his wife Kori welcomed their first child into the world May 24. Lila Beatrice Wilford was born healthy and fit at 4:10 a.m. after four hours of labor. She weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 21 inches long. In addition to Omega Pacific, the Wilfords also represent La Sportiva, Sterling Rope, Misty Mountain, Grivel and Patagonia. SNEWS® View: Mark will certainly become an expert in children's gear now. Wonder how his firsthand knowledge will affect sales of same in his territory?

>> With Australian-based Rip Curl moving the company's Mountain Division to Annecy, France, Troy Ballard has decided not to accept the company's offer of becoming the chairman of the division and instead will move his family back to the United States. Ballard tells SNEWS® that he will be living in Sun Valley and is still weighing options as to what his next industry adventure will be. Rip Curl has subsequently announced that Olivier Cantet will head Rip Curl's Mountain Division.

>> In the June 7 issue of Business Week magazine, four retailers and one snowsports company were listed on the Top 100 Growth Companies. To be considered, a company must be publicly traded, have annual sales of more than $50 million but less than $1.5 billion, have a current market value of more than $25 million, and a current stock price of at least $5. Companies with declining stocks or questions about future performance were not considered. Making the grade then were: Dick's Sporting Goods in the 20th slot, Sportsman's Guide in the 35th spot, Big 5 Sporting Goods in the 62nd spot, Hibbett Sporting Goods in the 65th spot, and Quiksilver in the 98th spot.

>> Sally Schumaier has been promoted to research editor at Outside magazine. Schumaier is taking over the vacancy left by Michael Roberts, who was promoted to Dispatches editor. As research editor, Schumaier will be responsible for fact-checking, intern recruitment and research training. Outside has also added Molly Sheehan to the sales team as a senior account manager. Sheehan will join the magazine's Los Angeles staff. Most recently, Sheehan was an account manager at Fortune magazine. Prior to that, she was Self magazine's Southwest sales manager.

>> Gregory Mountain Products has hired Jake Martin as marketing coordinator for the brand. In this newly created position Martin will be responsible for public relations, market research, project coordination and copywriting. Gregory has also hired Allan Fici and Jackie Ankerson of Manitou Trading Co. to represent the brand in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. They will be replacing Eric Haberman's Mountain High Sales and Marketing. The team also reps for Montrail, Cloudveil, Suunto and Chaco.

>> Kitty Bradley has resigned as the outdoor manager for Catalyst Communication and joined Great Trango Holding Company as the brand manager for Stonewear Designs. Bradley is returning to her apparel roots. Following a short tenure as director of motor clothes for Harley Davidson, Bradley was a divisional merchandising manager for Nike and then the director of the Nike Alpha Project. Following Nike, Bradley moved to Boulder where, among other jobs, she worked as the vice president of Salomon's apparel division. SNEWS® View: Strong move for Malcolm Daly, who with one hire, has just added some serious vision and clout to Stonewear.

>> Timbuk2 -- www.timbuk2.com -- has added Angel Martinez to its board of directors. Martinez is CEO of Keen Footwear and the former chief marketing officer of Reebok International. Martinez also serves on the board of both Ariat International, a leading manufacturer of equestrian footwear and apparel, and Tupperware, a leading manufacturer of housewares. Martinez also serves on the Reebok Human Rights board of advisors.

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