Summer Outdoor Product Sales are Strong, Yet Retailers are Cautious About Back-to-School
Boulder, CO – Prior to the ups and downs on Wall Street in August, retailers selling outdoor products had reason to be pleased with July sales, which increased 7.1 percent during the fiscal month to $970.6 million. Year-to-date sales of $5.2 billion were 5.7 percent ahead of 2010 comparisons, despite wet and longer-than-anticipated spring weather across much of the country. Of the channels tracked by SportScanInfo™ for OIA VantagePoint™, Outdoor specialty stores performed well during the month, with Independent Outdoor Specialty store sales increasing 19.6 percent when compared to the year-ago period. Outdoor Chain Specialty stores increased 8.4 percent compared to fiscal July 2010. For the first time since January, Internet/Catalog sales grew in the single digits, increasing 6.6 percent in July as consumers watched their spending more carefully.
Outdoor Footwear had an outstanding July, with sales increasing 23.2 percent to $195.5 million versus July 2010. Very strong sales at outdoor specialty, mall retailers and the Internet saw much of the jump as consumers continued to seek out Natural/Minimalist Footwear and other lightweight footwear products.
Outdoor Apparel sales got a much-needed boost from the Independent Outdoor Specialty channel in July, where double-digit increases offset flat or declining sales elsewhere. Overall retail sales of Outdoor Apparel inched up 0.8 percent to $166.0 million for the month ending July 30 in the channels tracked by SportScanInfo for OIA VantagePoint.
Retail sales of Outdoor Hardgoods posted solid growth in the fiscal month of July, growing 4.6 percent to $609.1 million. As summer outdoor activities kicked into high gear with the long-awaited arrival of sun and warmer weather, Lifestyle Daypacks, Technical Packs & Bags, Hydration Systems, Paddlesports and Trailers & Racks all reported double-digit sales growth during the month.
According to the National Retail Federation’s Back-to-School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, consumers will be recycling last year’s supplies and school clothes before purchasing anew. The poll of 8,684 consumers, conducted from July 1-6, 2011, indicated that spending will be earlier (42.4 percent of families will begin shopping three weeks to one month before school) and will be heavily influenced by the economy (83.7 percent say the economy will impact their spending plans). In addition, more consumers will use online options to comparison shop (30.7 percent versus 23.2 percent in 2010), many will make due with last year’s items (29.7 percent), and many will spend less overall (44.6 percent). As the second-largest consumer spending event for retailers behind the holiday buying season, combined K-12 and college back-to-school spending is expected to reach $68.8 billion this year. Average spending per family is expected to be flat or a few dollars below the 2010 total spent.
“With American consumers focusing more on value and long-term use as we head back to school, outdoor industry product sales will likely fare better than other segments where product performance and durability is less of a priority” said LaRae Marsik, vice president of Business Intelligence for Outdoor Industry Association. “Outdoor retailers continue to see above-market growth as consumers choose more carefully how they spend. They are investing in higher quality products that they enjoy using and trust will last. Marsik added: “The strength of July sales may be the bulk of the back-to-school surge as market fluctuations have consumers and retailers cautious around spending and stocking up. We’ll have to wait and see how August plays out.
Stock market instability in early August is expected to have an effect on back-to-school retail trends as consumers remain spooked by Wall Street’s woes. Retailers are keeping a close eye on inventories and weekly trend fluctuations to be able to react quickly if the forecasted downturns become reality.
OIA members can access the OIA VantagePoint™ monthly trend report for July 2011 by logging in to www.outdoorindustry.org/vantagepoint.
OIA VantagePoint™ is the first and only full market point-of-sale data view built specifically for Outdoor Industry Association members. OIA VantagePoint™ provides comprehensive visibility into the outdoor marketplace by tracking weekly point‐of‐sale data from over 10,000 retail doors and websites carrying outdoor products, including over 350 outdoor specialty locations.