Unit sales climbed just 1% over December 2011’s disappointing snow-deprived results, but the 5% average retail-selling price increase lifted the outdoor industry past $1.1B for the first time ever, according to Leisure Trends latest data.
Outdoor’s overall growth masked disparities among the categories. Apparel dollars grew most, climbing 6% to $695M despite the meager 1% unit hike. Equipment accessory units climbed 3% and rode the 10% ARSP hike to a 13% dollar gain. Equipment and footwear dollars remained flat from December 2011.
More normal December temperatures and late-month precipitation could not prevent equipment units’ 11% plunge. The equivalent ARSP increase kept dollars flat. Climbing gear dollars dropped 4% but it was winter equipment’s 10% unit and dollar contractions that stymied the overall category. Winter gear’s weakness is of particular concern because it comes on top of December 2011’s 24% dollar plunge, says Leisure Trends Group.
Boot, sandal and carryover footwear dollars increased and offset shoes’ and accessories’ declines to leave footwear flat in units and dollars. Multisport shoes drove the losses, giving up 31% in units and 28% in dollars to lighten retailers’ registers by almost $6M compared to December 2011. Other dollar decliners included slippers (-13%) and the relatively small rain boot (-13%) and traction (-11%) categories. Winter boots finally gained some ground as units rose 6% and dollars 5% to reach $49M, but that was far below December 2009’s $57M and 2010’s enviable $65M.
Despite the industry’s 5% ARSP hike, specialty margins contracted 1.2 points to 45.7%, suggesting markdowns drove some of the gains. Adding credence to this argument is carryover (discontinued and below-cost) product’s significant all-channel 76% increase to $22M. Carryover’s prominence affected all product categories, ranging from 38% dollar growth (outdoor equipment) to 122% (equipment accessories).
“We haven’t seen carryover volume or growth like this since December 2009, when dollar sales reached $26M” in the aftermath of the recession, noted Leisure Trends Senior Retail Analyst Tom Jones. “Carryover declined 39% to $16M the next December, and fell another 21% to $13M in December 2011.”
Specialty was the only channel that dropped in December unit sales, down 4%. But the 8% ARSP hike kept the dollar change positive at 4%. Unit and ARSP increases lifted internet and chain dollars 9% and 7%, respectively. Neither of the latter two lost ground in any product category, while specialty dollars dropped 7% in equipment and 4% in footwear. Equipment accessory dollars provided the biggest boost to each channel, climbing 21% online, 14% at chain and 7% at specialty.
The dollar share prize went to specialty, as it always has in the winter months, with 42%. Chain garnered 35% of the business while internet claimed 23%. Specialty declined from 47% in December 2009; chain grew less than a point of share over that period while internet rose from 19%.
Full-year 2012 results mimicked December’s growth. Dollars rose 5% despite winter equipment’s and winter boots’ weather-related contractions. Units only climbed 2% but ARSP provided the 3% boost to push annual outdoor revenue to a record $6.5B. This compares to $6.2B in 2011 and $5.7B in 2010.