U.S. outdoor retail sales grew 13 percent in March 2013 over the same month one year earlier, to $573 million, preliminary Leisure Trends Group data show. The results marked the 14th straight month of growth for the industry.
Internet sales of outdoor merchandise grew 19 percent over March 2012, the eighth month in the last 12 in which the online channel grew at a faster rate than specialty or chain. Specialty store sales climbed 8 percent and chain stores advanced 14 percent. Specialty stores grew faster than the national inflation rate in only six of the last 12 months.
“As a whole, the outdoor industry looks healthy,” said Leisure Trends Group Senior Retail Analyst Tom Jones. “The just-completed first quarter grew 13 percent over 2012, and this is the third year in the last four in which we have seen double-digit first-quarter growth.”
The only cause for concern is inventory levels, Jones said. Last year’s almost nonexistent winter pushed March 1 specialty retailers’ inventory levels up 14 percent in dollars over the previous year. By this March 1, instead of pulling back to the more normal levels of 2011, specialty retailers had added another 4 percent in inventory dollars, Jones said.