Outdoor Product sales showed solid growth in fiscal March, up 7.6 percent to $881.4 million, according to the latest monthly sales report from OIA. The growth was driven primarily by strong sales in outdoor apparel, along with the outdoor footwear category, which grew for the first time this year, says OIA. Hardgoods sales were up again over last year, but not to the levels seen in January and February. The strongest channel growth was in the National Accounts Internet and Discount/Mass trade channels.
Outdoor apparel sales, meanwhile, increased 16.6 percent to $243.3 million for the five-week period ended April 6, 2013. Although apparel sales growth fell short of levels seen in the first two months of 2013 (increases between 19 and 30 percent) retailers continued to benefit from cooler weather, which drove the sale of outerwear tops later into the spring than last year, says OIA. Headwear, handwear and undergarments all increased by 25 percent or more as retailers took advantage of late snows to clear out inventories.
Following decreases in January and February, Outdoor footwear sales moved in a positive direction in fiscal March, up 4.3 percent from March 2012 to $239.6 million. Comfort casual showed the strongest growth among all outdoor footweat categories (up 23 percent), but sandals and barefoot/natural running continued to hold back the footwear category.
Sales of outdoor hardgoods slowed following double-digit growth during the first two months of this year, up 4.6 percent to $398.5 in March. Showing strength over last year were hydration, technical packs and bags, bicycles/cycling products and climbing/mountaineering equipment, which all posted double-digit gains versus the five-week comparable month last year.
Sales through the National Accounts Internet channel continued to gain strength, accounting for 9.8 percent of all outdoor product sales in March, up from 7.8 percent in March 2012. This trend was particularly evident in outdoor apparel, where National Accounts Internet made up 14.3 percent of sales in March, up from 9.2 percent last year.