OIA VantagePoint: May 2011 Outdoor Product Sales Rise Just 1.7 Percent

Unusual Weather Patterns and Consumer Uncertainty Contribute to Lackluster Sales Growth. The outdoor product business trailed the general retail market in growth during May, ending the month up only 1.7 percent to $808.5 million in sales tracked by

Unusual Weather Patterns and Consumer Uncertainty Contribute to Lackluster Sales Growth

The outdoor product business trailed the general retail market in growth during May, ending the month up only 1.7 percent to $808.5 million in sales tracked by SportsScanInfo for OIA VantagePointâ„¢. Though the broader market saw much of the upswing in retail sales come from inflationary pressures on basic goods and services, tough year-ago comparisons and the weather fluctuations put a slight damper on outdoor product sales. Outdoor product retailers experienced a low-single-digit decline in Outdoor Apparel sales and a flat trend in Outdoor Hardgoods in May, which was partially offset by a healthy high-single digit increase in Outdoor Footwear sales for the month.

Overall Outdoor Footwear sales increased 8.3% to $194.5 million in May in the channels tracked by SportScanInfo for OIA VantagePoint™, with a significant portion of sales coming from the fast‐growing Natural/Minimalist categories. Other footwear categories may be seeing a cannibalization of sales. Sales of Trail Running Shoes fell in strong double‐digits for the period. That also held true for the Functional Outdoor Footwear category where triple‐digit growth in Natural/Minimalist styles and double‐digit growth in Outdoor Crosstraining (Multi‐Sport) Footwear compared against a decline in Light Hiking.

Outdoor Apparel sales took a bit of a hit in May, dipping 2.0 percent to $137.0 million in the period, thanks to continued erratic weather that did not allow consumers to settle into a solid seasonal buying pattern until late in the month. The erratic weather — and the presence of new snowfall and open ski resorts — may have helped boost the sales on Outdoor Outerwear and Baselayers for the month. The categories still represent a smaller portion of overall Outdoor Apparel sales for the period, but combined still contributed 21.5 percent of sales in a month that should be more about shorts and tees. The obvious loser in the weather‐impacted month was the Outdoor Sportswear business, which lost nearly five percentage points of share versus the comparable month in 2010.

The weather impact continued in Hardgoods as rain, melting snow and the resulting swollen rivers and streams had a noticeable impact on boat sales and fishing equipment at specialty stores even as late snows kept Snow Sports hardgoods heading out the door at full retail prices. It all balanced out though, with overall Outdoor Hardgoods sales fairly flat for the retail fiscal month of May, inching up just 0.2 percent to $477.0 million for the four‐week period ending May 28, 2011.

Among the nine channels tracked by OIA VantagePointâ„¢ for outdoor-related product sales, consistently strong growth continues to come from the Internet/Catalog channel, as the near-standardization of free shipping and broader inventory choices continue to present an attractive alternative to spending gas money on a multi-stop shopping trip.

OIA members can access the OIA VantagePointâ„¢ monthly trend report for May 2011 by logging in to http://www.outdoorindustry.org/vantagepoint.

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