Outdoor product sales grew 8% this February over the same month one year ago to $484 million, according to Leisure Trends Group. Three of the four major categories contributed to the dollar growth, but footwear logged its sixth straight month of flat or declining sales, dropping 1% in dollars and 5% in units. Equipment (+4%), equipment accessories (+5%) and apparel (+11%) enjoyed dollar increases.
Multisport shoes continued to drag down the footwear category as unit and dollar sales dropped by double-digit percentages for the eleventh month in a row, a 26% decline from last February of almost $4 million. Trail running shoe dollars fell 6% and casual shoes remained flat.
Equipment units avoided declines for the first time this winter. Dollars grew for the second month in a row, rising 4% over last February, says Leisure Trends. Specialty equipment margins stood at 37.8%, a one-point increase from last February but still 3.7 points below February 2011’s numbers.
“We are still feeling the repercussions of a poor winter followed by a late winter, and those ripples will continue into next fall,” observed Tom Jones, Leisure Trends Group Senior Retail Analyst. “March snow seems to be helping, but it will likely be too late for retailers to reduce significantly their equipment inventories, which are tracking near or above last year’s elevated levels.”
Surging tent and sleeping bag sales online may suggest early enthusiasm for summer. Internet merchants’ 33% and 19% unit growth in tents and bags, respectively, pushed all-channel dollars up 18% and 7%, respectively. Camp accessory dollars increased 5% overall with double-digit growth from mattresses, camp furniture and tent accessories.
All three outdoor channels gained dollars over February 2012. Internet climbed 12% as units and average retail-selling prices increased 6% each. Chain grew 7% on the strength of the 5% ARSP bump. Specialty needed the 6% boost in ARSP to push dollars up 5%.