We have received so many requests for access to the 2008 SNEWS Summer Outdoor magazine article by Marcus Woolf, "Roughing It: The outdoor industry faces a tough slog as it navigates difficult economic times" that we are offering it now for download and your end-of-year reading pleasure.
This article, when combined with the regular economic features we have been publishing since the first October 27 article "Our worsening economy: A snapshot of what the future may hold for our industries" appeared, will help to give you a deeper understanding of what our industries face, and how we can rise up to meet the challenges.
"Things are different this time partly because consumers face an unusual number of economic pressures. “The weak housing market is a big one,” said Rosalind Wells, chief economist for the National Retail Federation. “In the past, a lot of consumer spending was augmented by what they could extract from their homes. And that’s over with now.” In June, the Mortgage Bankers Association announced that 1.1 million homes were in foreclosure—a new record. At the same time, the American public is facing escalating prices for energy and food, with milk also now surpassing $4 a gallon. But, wait, there’s more: “We have a weak employment picture and weak income growth,” said Wells. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May. And the Associated Press reported in May, “U.S. personal income slowed sharply, despite the mailing of billions in economic stimulus payments from the government.”
The Commerce Department reported that incomes rose a meager 0.2 percent in April, after a 0.4 percent rise in March. “As a result of all this, consumer confidence is on the decline,” said Wells.
“There are lots of people out there being squeezed by all these factors. People are very concerned about the future and are tightening their belts, and it’s showing up in sales. People are also not spending a lot on discretionary items.”
Put it all together, and you have a mountain of concerns that the outdoor industry has not had to climb before. But the U.S. consumer market is just one part of the picture. The weak dollar, the soaring cost of oil and dramatic changes in the Asian manufacturing sector are complicating things further. Put simply, it’s becoming much more costly to manufacture gear."
There is much more in the article to digest. Click here to download the PDF reprint of the SNEWS article and happy reading.