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 modest 1.4 percent gain for the industry during the month. By those separate measures, outdoor retail was either better or worse off than the general market, which saw sales rise 2.1 percent in September, according to the National Retail Federation.
Dissecting the September data by sales channel, Leisure Trends reported Internet sales up 14 percent, chain stores up 5 percent and specialty stores up 2 percent. OIA VantagePoint, which partners with SportsOneSource on its data, reported a 5.3 percent drop in sales at specialty stores.
OIA VantagePoint officials said September’s comps were affected by last year’s jump in outdoor apparel sales following Hurricane Irene hitting the East Coast in late August 2011. Outdoor apparel sales in September 2012 fell 7.7 percent compared to a year ago, according to OIA VantagePoint. Footwear sales edged up 1.4 percent, but continued to experience “sharp declines” in the barefoot running category. The bright spot came in outdoor hardgoods sales, which rose 6.7 percent fueled by paddlesports, hydration, electronics and daypacks.
Looking ahead to the holiday season, Leisure Trends Group Senior Retail Analyst Tom Jones noted that retailers could see “pent-up consumer demand” come through after last winter season’s warm temperatures and lack snow curtailed sales. A more positive overall economy should help too, he said.
"We may be moving into a best-case scenario in which the strongest growth of the year coincides with the highest-volume months of the year," Jones said. "The only wildcard ingredient that has to fall into place is cold, snowy weather."