Home Blog The State of the Outdoor Business
Jul 25, 2017

Sneakernomics: The State of the Outdoor Business

Subscribe to our blog

The overall state of the U.S. outdoor business has not been very good. According to data from NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, dollar sales are down year-to-date through May 2017 compared to the same period one year ago, across the men’s, women’s, and kids’ markets.

Some of the reasons are well-known. The closing of The Sports Authority and Sport Chalet created a void that has not been filled. Outdoor products sold through the athletic specialty/sporting goods channel have declined in the high single-digits. At the same time, little of these lost sales have been picked up in the outdoor specialty channel, where sale are down in the low single-digits for the year so far. Even sales in outdoor e-commerce have declined.

The ongoing retail rationalization has had an impact on the entire retail business. Retail sales in general are slowing. Consumers are spending more money on travel and experiences, and less on things like shoes and shirts. The cold and wet spring in much of the nation did not help. All these are part of the problems in outdoor retail.

The sports specialty business remains under siege as well. As we look across that landscape, sales are tough for specialty categories like cycling and running. Outdoor specialty is not immune to these forces. There is likely a “silent” rationalization happening in the specialty businesses where small stores and chains are shuttering as well.

Looking at specific categories, the outdoor accessories business declined in the high single-digits for the year so far. The luggage business did trend positively, a reflection of the robust travel business. Travel remains a great opportunity for the outdoor industry to exploit. The bag business is down in the mid-singles, with only sports equipment bags trending up. Sunglass sales are down in the mid-teens.

Outdoor apparel declined in the mid-singles. The cool spring no doubt helped certain categories as headwear, handwear, cold weather undergarments, and outerwear all posted gains. This, however, was offset by declines in sportswear and sweats/active bottoms.

Outdoor equipment sales were down in the low-teens. Equipment accessories also declined in the low-teens as a sharp drop in cookware and instruments business offset growth in coolers, where the soft-sided business is surging.

The camping business, a bright spot a few years ago, posted a high single-digit decline year-to-date. The hot climbing business was also down, dropping in the low single-digits.

Footwear sales were also soft, down in the high single-digits, as very weak running shoe sales tempered low single-digit growth in outdoor footwear.

When we look at the outdoor business by brands, we see that those including Patagonia, Marmot, SmartWool, Arc’teryx, Osprey, Kuhl, and Keen all had increases. The North Face, Columbia, Merrell, and YETI all experienced declines for the year so far. 

All in all, it has been a tough year for the outdoor industry. While there are opportunities like travel to exploit, the industry must respond to the ever-changing retail business.



Stay current in your industry
SUBSCRIBE

Related Blog Posts

Tagged: Sports


VSCO Girls: How A Consumer Group Born on Social Media Has Cross-Industry Implications
VSCO Girls: How A Consumer Group Born on Social Media Has Cross-Industry Implications

The VSCO girl subculture took hold this summer and has created opportunities for products and brands in a variety of industries including apparel, beauty, fashion accessories, footwear, sporting goods and technology. We asked our industry analysts to weigh in regarding the implications and opportunities for their industries.

Let’s Grow the Pie, Not Fight for the Last Slice
Let’s Grow the Pie, Not Fight for the Last Slice

The NFL’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods’ investments in flag football, and cycling’s strategic focus on e-bikes are examples pointing to opportunities to find new growth by boosting interest in a category and inviting participation versus direct brand competition.

Sneakernomics: Holiday 2019 Predictions for Sports Retail
Sneakernomics: Holiday 2019 Predictions for Sports Retail

Matt Powell predicts that the lack of truly “hot” items is a void that will put pressure on the athletic footwear and activewear markets. On the other hand, he anticipates a merrier performance stemming from smaller brands in the space, and from some outdoor and sports equipment categories.

Sneakernomics: Athletic Footwear and Activewear Third Quarter Results
Sneakernomics: Athletic Footwear and Activewear Third Quarter Results

NPD’s Matt Powell reviews the performance of athletic footwear and activewear categories during the third quarter of 2019. From casual and performance sneakers to athletic attire, this blog looks at where the industry currently stands and could potentially be heading.

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.