This is part one of a multi-part series. The next installments will be published in the coming weeks.

It's been a long time coming, but the SNEWS Retailer Survey is finally back. A few years have passed since our last iteration of this series, and in that time, the industry has changed a lot. New players have come onto the scene. Some old favorites have said farewell. And of course, this year, everything was flipped on its head as we figured out how to come together as a community and help each other through one of the most challenging periods in the history of our industry.

So consider this a new beginning for the SNEWS Retailer Survey series. The data this year are bound to be a little wild, given the whiplash of the pandemic, but they're illuminating nonetheless, and a good place to start.

Breakdown of respondents

To understand the numbers we'll present over the next several week, it will help to understand who responded to our survey—the jobs our participants hold and the businesses they represent.

We chose to open the survey to anyone working in independent outdoor retail, at any level, in any shop. We got 172 responses from across the country, from Alaska all the way to Maine. The majority of respondents were owners, presidents, founders, and CEOs of gear shops, but we also received entries from managers, buyers, sales associates, mechanics, merchandise planners, operations directors, and more.

We asked respondents to identify their specific store type, and found that the largest share of participants—37 percent—worked at traditional outdoor speciality shops, with more niche categories like bike shops and paddlesport stores accounting for the rest.

Specifically, the numbers came in as follows

  • Traditional outdoor specialty (37 percent of respondents)
  • Lifestyle plus outdoor specialty (15 percent)
  • Cycling only (10 percent)
  • Paddlesports plus outdoor speciality (8 percent)
  • Cycling plus outdoor speciality (6 percent)
  • Snow sports plus outdoor speciality (6 percent)
  • Traditional sporting goods plus outdoor speciality (4 percent)
  • Other (10 percent)
download

Sales volume, 2019 and 2020

The pandemic brought almost uniform misfortune to some industries. Thankfully, specialty outdoor retail was not one of them—a trend clearly reflected in the data we gathered.

Overall, we found that sales volume polarized slightly from 2019 to 2020. The share of respondents who reported bringing in less than $500,000 jumped from year to year (15 to 20 percent), but so did the share of respondents who reported bringing in more than $5 million (11 to 14 percent).

Store Sales
Store Sales (1)

These numbers are consistent with other reporting we've done, showing uneven growth and decline in the retail sector. The reason for this pattern likely has to do with concentrated spikes in demand for certain outdoor products that make up the core sales of some shops, like bikes and kayaks, and a general decrease in demand for categories that boost the bottom line of others, like apparel and accessories.

Specific, concentrated demand, in other words, is one possible explanation for the trend we see here: Seven percent of respondents from the middle-tier sales volume brackets in 2019 were pushed into either the highest or lowest brackets in 2020.

What's coming next

This is just the beginning. In the coming weeks, we have much more data coming out, from the best and worst manufacturers to do business with, to the bestselling brands in various hard and softgoods categories, to the fastest-growing gear categories overall, and much more.

Related

Man riding a bicycle past a tan building.

2020 SNEWS Retailer Survey results, part 2: Best manufacturers

This is part two of a multi-part series. The next installments will be published in the coming weeks. You can read part one, about annual sales volume, here.  Parts two and three of our 2020 SNEWS Retailer Survey are all about manufacturers—the best and the worst of the bunch. ...read more

SNEWSFitnessSurvey.jpg

2012 SNEWS Retail Survey Results Part 1: “Best” and “most difficult” suppliers, plus sales trends

The annual SNEWS® Fitness Retailer Survey results are in. Though we’d generally had this survey open during the summer, with results published before the Health & Fitness Business Expo, this year we will run these results during the height of the holiday shopping season, and ...read more

Neptune masked cashier and customer

As retailers open up, results are mostly positive, with some confusion over safety

After months of closures that spelled disaster for some and extreme hardship for many others, retailers both small and large have started reopening across the nation as states lift the stay-at-home mandates that have kept them closed. The results so far, according to multiple ...read more

Survey_Retailer.jpg

SNEWS 2010 Fitness Retailer Survey - Part 1: Best, “most difficult,” plus sales trends

The annual SNEWS® Fitness Retailer Survey has a big story to tell yet again about the industry, its evolution and its health. With so much to discuss, we have for the second year broken up the results into a four-part series to run over the next few weeks because we don’t want ...read more

Survey_Retailer.jpg

SNEWS 2011 Fitness Retailer Survey - Part 1: best, 'most difficult,' plus sales trends

The annual SNEWS® Fitness Retailer Survey has a big story to tell yet again, taken at a time in late spring 2011 when soothsayers indicated the economy was getting better. The industry’s evolution, health and size are extremely different these days, and there are more changes ...read more

2008 SNEWS® Fitness Retailer Survey: Full results for your eager eyes!

(Last week, we published the full results and commentary for the "best" and "most difficult" supplier questions -- which appeared in part in the new SNEWS® magazine you received in June – as well as full results of top-selling and fastest-growing category questions, plus what we ...read more

Survey_Retailer.jpg

SNEWS 2009 Fitness Retailer Survey, part 1: Best & most difficult suppliers, fastest-growing and top-selling categories

With so much to present from our annual SNEWS® Fitness Retailer Survey, we broke up the results for 2009 into four parts, which have been posted to our site over the last few weeks. All of the news and votes make for interesting reading, and we don’t want any one category to get ...read more

Great Outdoor Provisions

The Outdoor Retailer Playbook: Part I

Everyone in this industry knows the problem by now: The rise of online shopping has turned the traditional outdoor marketplace on its head. Consumers now turn to the internet first when they need new gear; brands seize the chance to sell it directly through their own websites or ...read more

Gearheads Outdoor Store view of customers at the register

GearHeads Outdoor Store takes home the 2020 CoolShop Award!

The people have spoken. One month ago, we asked you to vote on the coolest retail shop in the nation from our list of 15 standouts featured in last year’s #CoolShop column. We received more than 42,000 votes—the largest poll participation in SNEWS history—and the results are in. ...read more