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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Independent Outdoor Specialty Retailers See Robust Rebound

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the collaborative strategic network of independent outdoor specialty retailers, reported robust year-to-year retail sales gains in their March membership update last week.

Based on Grassroots member sales reports, independent outdoor specialty retailers are enjoying an exceptional year-to-year sales rebound that has met and surpassed “business as usual,” with a startling 101 percent gain in March 2021. The group is up 8 percent on a rolling 12- month basis, with Q1 2021 reported figures showing a 34 percent increase over Q1 2020.

“The data is totally accurate but should still be viewed with cautious optimism. Coming from the depths of the shutdown to robust outdoor demand paired with widespread supply chain issues, we’re clearly headed into a pretty crazy data phase in the outdoor sector,” said Rich Hill, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance.

During the depth of the spring 2020 shutdown, Grassroots member retailers were impacted due to regional pandemic restrictions that forced partial and full closures from mid-March through early June. Close to 20 percent of surveyed Grassroots retailers reported closing their doors to the public by March 16, 2020, while 95 percent had closed by the end of that month. As expected, the resulting sales impacts for the group in 2020 included decreases of -33 percent in March, -58 percent in April, and -9 percent in May.

To date in 2021, year-to-year sales change numbers tell a vastly different story, with sizable boosts in January (+20 percent), February (+14 percent), and March (+101 percent). Looking beyond last spring’s anemic sales number, Grassroots retailers were up 25 percent in a two-year comparison between reporting retailers in 2019 and 2021.

Additionally, average group sales margins for March 2021 are up close to 4 points over 2020, a strong indication that current sales strength is based on full price sales for new spring product, rather than discounted fall/winter holdovers.


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