April Outdoor Sales Indicate Declines Easing, Shoppers Returning

Retail sales for all core outdoor stores combined (chain, internet, specialty)* grew 2% compared to last April, moving from $339M to $347M,according to the most recent edition of The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor Topline Report, produced for OIA by the Leisure Trends Group. Sales for the four months of the year totaled $1.4B, down 5% from the same period in 2008.
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Retail sales for all core outdoor stores combined (chain, internet, specialty)* grew 2% compared to last April, moving from $339M to $347M,according to the most recent edition of The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor Topline Report, produced for OIA by the Leisure Trends Group. Sales for the four months of the year totaled $1.4B, down 5% from the same period in 2008.

Outdoor Chain – Shoppers Return

According to the OIA Outdoor Topline Report, chain stores saw sales surge 20% in units and 18% in dollars. Every major product category (equipment, equipment accessories, apparel and footwear) and most sub-categories gained. Products that appeal to families and car campers fared especially well. Recreation tent sales shot ahead of last April by 78% in units and 64% in dollars. Sun shelters were up 88% in units and three-season recreation tents, retailing for $124, jumped 71%. Synthetic fill rectangular bags, retailing for $32, increased 82% in units whereas the more technical synthetic mummy bags, at $99 retail, grew 31%.

Outdoor Specialty – Declines are Slowing but Not Yet Reversing

In specialty stores, April declines were not as severe as in past months, as total sales fell 1% in units and 4% in dollars compared to April 2008. So far this year, all specialty unit sales declined 6% and dollars fell 10%. Each major product category (equipment, equipment accessories, apparel and footwear) saw single-digit declines compared to last April. There were bright spots this month, too, as synthetic sleeping bags, medium-sized packs, climbing gear, multisport shoes, hiking boots and various equipment accessory categories posted gains.

Outdoor Internet – Retail Prices Rise, Units Fall as Online Retailers Reign in Clearance Product

Internet sales totaled $54M this month, falling 20% in units, rising 4% in average retail-selling price and dropping 17% in dollars. All year, Internet sales have been sporadic, up 35% in January on huge carryover sales, down 9% in February, back up 14% in March and now down 17% in April. Higher retail-selling prices across many categories coupled with dramatically smaller carryover sales (defined as old and/or discontinued merchandise) point to either a lack of available merchandise and/or online retailers reigning in the amount of rock-bottom clearance priced product they are offering. If this is the case, total sales may have fallen but profit per turn might go up.

Paddlesports – Canoes Bright Spot for April

Core paddlesport stores (specialty, chain, internet) brought in $36M in April and $86M so far in 2009, dropping 1% and 3%, respectively, against the same period last year. While all boats, with $21M this month, dropped 2% in both units and dollars, both recreation kayaks and canoes gained steam compared to last April. Recreation kayaks with an average retail price of $769, up 7% from last April, gained 3% in overall dollars for an April total of $11.2M. Canoes gained 5% in units, 4% in retail price and 9% in total dollars this month.

Hands-on Hydration Reaching Plateau?

Hands-on hydration, consisting mostly of water bottles, is now an $89M category across all store channels in the current rolling year. However, the category seems to be reaching the height of its growth, after a meteoric rise. While still up 15% and 28% in specialty-store units and dollars so far this year, the hands-on hydration category dropped 10% in units and 2% in dollars in specialty stores compared to April 2008. The category plunged 54% in online units and 57% in dollars from last April, while still seeing growth in chains. Looking at all three store channels together, total units were flat in April and dollars grew 5% on a 5% increase in retail price. Still, with $6.9M in total April sales and $22M YTD, the category is a long way away from the 2006 totals of just $2M in April and $6M in the January – April YTD period.

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