Outdoor Industry Exhibits Strong Q1 Growth in Shaky Economy

Quarter 1 2008 ended on a high note for the outdoor industry, as sales grew 9% in dollars against Q1 2007, according to the Outdoor Industry Association Outdoor Topline Report (produced by the Leisure Trends Group).
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Quarter 1 2008 ended on a high note for the outdoor industry, as sales grew 9% in dollars against Q1 2007, according to the Outdoor Industry Association Outdoor Topline Report (produced by the Leisure Trends Group).

Sales grew across all outdoor retail channels (Chain, Specialty and Internet) and across all four major product categories (Equipment, Equipment Accessories, Footwear and Apparel). The exception was paddle business where all sales dropped 9% in dollars.

Category Growth Influenced by Lower Temperatures and Lighter Pockets

Both the economy and the weather played a role in the outdoor retail sales this period. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on February 2nd forecasting a cold spring, and temperatures were obligingly low across the country in February and March. Consequently, winter categories outpaced Q1 last year by healthy margins. All outerwear gained 14% in units and 17% in dollars, winter equipment (nordic, randonee and telemark skiing equipment, snowshoes and backcountry equipment) grew 12% in units and 19% in dollars, and winter boots grew 9% and 19% in units and dollars respectively.

On the flip side, paddlesport and sandal sales sat shivering on the sidelines, waiting for their day in the sun. Although kayaks, canoes and sandals suffered losses this Quarter, boat and sandal sales look to heat up as the snow melt turns into whitewater runoff and the reservoirs and lakes fill with water.

Shifting American travel plans may have contributed to larger sales of camping gear this quarter, as more consumers are choosing camping as an affordable option for summer vacation. Leisure Trends’ consumer research found that of those Americans who take active sport vacations, 20% took a camping vacation in the past year, up from just 12% in 2002, and 24% took a backpacking/ hiking trip, up from 17% in 2002. Kayaking and snorkeling are increasing as outdoor vacation choices.

Outdoor sales reflect these shifts in vacation plans. Tents were the biggest winners, growing their sales by an astonishing 24% in units and 26% in dollars over Q1 2007. Sleeping bags, packs, hands-on hydration and camp accessories all increased unit and dollar sales this quarter as well.

To access the outdoor retail sales data and to review trends by industry channel and category, OIA members can log in at www.outdoorindustry.org or call 303.444.3353 for assistance.

For additional brand growth and brand and model market share reports, please contact Leisure Trends Group for at 303.786.7900 x107 or www.leisuretrends.com.

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About Outdoor Industry Association

Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) is a national trade association whose mission is to ensure the growth and success of the outdoor industry. OIA provides trade services for over 4000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives and retailers in the outdoor industry. OIA programs include representation in government/legislative affairs, market and social research, business-to-business services and youth outreach initiatives. Educational events include the annual Rendezvous, Outdoor University, and the Capitol Summit. Outdoor Industry Association is based in Boulder, Colorado, and is the title sponsor of the Outdoor Retailer tradeshows. For more information go to www.outdoorindustry.org or call 303.444.3353.

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