Boulder, CO — November 17, 2010 – Feeling the impact from the driest, warmest October in 18 years, outdoor product sales dipped 5.5 percent in October as most retailers sat on cold-weather footwear and apparel. According to retail point-of-sale data compiled by SportScanInfo for OIA VantagePoint™, the Official Research of the Outdoor Industry™, a cold-spell at the end of October helped boost the insulated jacket and winter boot categories somewhat, but could not offset the sharper declines from the first half of the month which impacted the Southwest, Northwest and Rockies regions most dramatically.
Historically a shoulder month that falls between the back-to-school timeframe and the holiday retail selling season, October is commonly less active than those key retail selling periods. Consolidated broader market retail sales data for October 2010 show comp store sales growth for the month represented the smallest gain since April (0.8 percent) as consumer spending trends continue to be extremely conservative and budget-conscious.
Sales through the consolidated outdoor specialty and outdoor chain channels were down more sharply (10.3 percent) than the market as a whole during October, while Internet/catalog saw gains of 12.8 percent. Discount, mass and department store were all up slightly, but all other channels were down during the month resulting in the combined dip. For the outdoor apparel category, department stores showed growth (up 2.5 percent for the month) while outdoor footwear products moved in a positive direction through independent outdoor specialty retailers (up 1.0 percent) and Internet/catalog (up 15.3 percent), with all other outdoor apparel and footwear channels declining during October. Outdoor hardgoods saw a dramatic increase of 26 percent in the Internet/catalog channel, with discount/mass retailers also growing sales, but not as significantly.
“We continue to see a shift in retail channel sales to the Internet and vendor-owned retail,” observed James Hartford, CEO and chief market analyst for The SportsOneSource Group, which manages the OIA VantagePoint platform. “The shift is not necessarily due to price as many would think. Average selling prices are actually rising in these channels as consumers find more top-tier brands available while struggling to find what they need in the inventory-constrained brick ‘n mortar environment.”
For example, last October the average selling price for softshell jackets in the Internet channel was less than all channels except discount mass. This year, average selling prices in the channel put the Internet between independent outdoor specialty and above outdoor chain retailers in the average selling price ranking for softshell jackets. The Internet was the only channel to exhibit an increase in average selling prices in October.
Focusing on product trends, shell and fleece jackets both increased for the month alongside an increase in average selling prices as weather more favorable to outerwear sales started to show up in the latter part of the month. In outdoor footwear, trail running, barefoot and outdoor cross-training were the key gainers for the month. Average selling prices in footwear increased from $84.60 in September to $125.10 in October, driving total sales growth for the overall outdoor specialty business on stronger winter boot sales during the second half of the month.
Reinforcing the impact of weather on the sales totals for outdoor products, November weather patterns thus far have been more seasonal and are helping propel outdoor footwear sales which are up six percent with outdoor apparel sales up 23 percent as of mid-November.