December Outdoor Product Sales Results Bring Smiles at Retail
A shifting calendar and timely weather help build sales and margins
The fiscal month of December came in like a lion and went out like a lamb in the outdoor products market this year as the right mix of weather, resolution of political strife, improved economics and a shift in the holiday seasonal calendar resulted in increased sales, improved margins and cleaner inventories for the market’s retailers. Favorable weather and calendar conditions early in the month gave way to tougher comparisons the week following Christmas. Still the early surge in business in the week following Thanksgiving (which moved into December this year compared to the last week of November last year) delivered a double-digit increase for the largest month of the year for outdoor product sales.
“The month of December saw a perfect storm of sorts this year,” explained James Hartford, chief market insights analyst for The SportsOneSource Group, which manages the OIAVantagePoint.com platform. “The shift of part of Black Friday weekend, Cyber Monday week and early cold, wintry weather all combined to provide the right nudge to the consumer to focus on outdoor products purchases. By the end of the month, retail shelves were cleaner, fill-ins were hard to find and the heavy promotional cadence from a year ago was barely evident.”
Outdoor product sales increased 10.2 percent to $2.36 billion for the five-week fiscal month ending January 4, 2014, according to the latest monthly sales report from OIA VantagePoint™. Outdoor apparel again posted solid gains, leading all macro categories, while outdoor footwear showed sequential improvement to its long-term challenges. Outdoor hardgoods surged back into double-digit growth in December on strong snow sports, camping gear and bicycle sales.
The Internet was clearly king in fiscal December, representing 27.5 percent of all outdoor product sales for the five-week month, compared to 21.1 percent of overall sales in December 2012. The shift in the calendar was a significant driver of the increase as Cyber Monday moved into December this year, but when combining November and December results the Internet still increased to 26.9 percent of sales for the two-month period versus 21.8 percent in the prior-year comparable period.
Outdoor apparel sales increased 14.7 percent to $1.26 billion in fiscal December, nearly triple the November growth rate. The growth in apparel was driven primarily by cold weather categories, including outdoor outerwear, base layers, as well as sportswear, particularly long-sleeve woven tops, and casual/fitted pants and bottoms. The one sore spot was full-zip fleece jackets, which took a tumble on a shift in consumer fashion preference away from some core products in the category.
A shift in fashion preferences also hit the casual side of the outdoor footwear business in December as consumers moved away from outdoor-oriented casual boots and shoes and into non-outdoor products. Still, the outdoor footwear category showed sequential improvement versus the negative trend of the previous seven months, posting a decline of 6.1 percent to $320.3 million. The encouraging sign in the business is the growth of the functional outdoor footwear categories, specifically light hiking, technical hiking, trail shoes and outdoor pac boots.
Outdoor hardgoods was the only outdoor macro category to post positive sales each week of the fiscal month of December. The category posted three double-digit growth weeks in the five-week fiscal month ending January 4, 2014. Sales of outdoor hardgoods jumped 12.4 percent to $724.4 million in December. Sales of backpacking, camping gear and snow sports equipment set the early pace for the month and other categories like bicycles and tools & knives sustained the growth right through the Christmas week.
More encouraging perhaps than the improvement in sales was the apparent upside for retailers’ bottom line as strong sales early led to improved margins and cleaner inventories. Final results for the month are published monthly in the OIA VantagePoint™ monthly trend report, available free of charge to Outdoor Industry Association members. For more information about becoming an OIA member, visit outdoorindustry.org/join or contact the OIA membership team at 303.444.3353.
OIA VantagePoint™ is the first and only “full market” weekly point-of-sale data reporting platform built specifically for the outdoor industry. OIA VantagePoint™ weekly and monthly trend reports provide the broadest and most timely view of outdoor product sales available. Online category reports are available at no charge to Outdoor Industry Association members and provide comprehensive visibility into the outdoor marketplace by tracking weekly point-of-sale data from more than 10,000 retail doors and websites that carry outdoor products, including nearly 450 specialty locations. It is the broadest view of both brick-and-mortar and Internet sales of outdoor products available in the market. In-depth sales information is available online within four days of the prior-week close — a competitive advantage for businesses, who can shift critical resources and react quickly to ever-changing consumer preferences.
Outdoor Industry Association
Based in Boulder, CO, with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. OIA supports the growth and success of more than 4,000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives and retailers of outdoor recreation apparel, footwear, equipment and services. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org or call 303.444.3353.
The SportsOneSource Group
The SportsOneSource Group is a full service market research company delivering solutions through consumer insight research, retail insight research and retail point-of-sale trending and analysis. The company provides the most reliable, timely and comprehensive sports and outdoor industry information available in the market today. The syndicated Outdoor Brand Strength Report, Pulse of the Outdoor Consumer Report and Retail Pulse reports provide the market with clear qualitative and quantitative analysis of trends as they happen. SportScanInfo, SSI Performance, and OIA VantagePoint™ retail point-of-sale reporting is developed utilizing a proprietary SportsOneSource technology platform to compile, aggregate, and disseminate retail point-of-sale trending information quickly and accurately. Together, the insights and point-of-sale data provide a complete picture for the market. For more information about The SportsOneSource Group or OIA VantagePoint™, call 303.997.7302 or email OIAVantagePoint@SportsOneSource.com.