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May 17, 2017

Understanding Seasonality in Active Apparel and Footwear

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After another cold, harsh winter, the weather in Canada is starting to get warmer and the snow has finally melted away. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s common for consumers at this time of the year to start thinking about outdoor activity again. Traditionally, there is a strong seasonal period that generally starts to ramp up in March when consumers begin to increase their spending on active apparel and footwear. This strong seasonal period tends to continue throughout the spring, peaking in August before a slowdown in the fall.

As Canadians awaken from their hibernation there is also traditionally a surge in spend on apparel and footwear for sport or exercise. This trend tends to increase as spend on athleisure (a category more typically tied to the holiday peak) slows. Sports participation is a key driver of apparel and footwear sales as participation rates for sports/exercise is nearly 90 per cent in Canada, compared to 78 per cent in the US.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, millennials have become an important underlying driver of this seasonal period of strength. Millennials have continued to slow their spend on active footwear and apparel - from +18 per cent in 2016 to +6 per cent in 2017. This decrease is largely attributed to the athleisure category, which has seen its growth drop from +20 per cent in 2016 to +6 per cent in 2017.

And while active millennials (those consumers buying for sport use) have also slowed their spend, this category is still outpacing athleisure at +7 per cent in 2017. This is far from a surprise as 95 per cent of the millennial cohort is active, and nearly 30 per cent identify themselves as a core athlete (3X that of the overall population).

Interestingly, when we look at sales for the use of an individual sport/exercise (running, working out, golfing, etc.) this spend is in decline while the spend on outdoor activities (hiking, camping, swimming, etc.) is up +10 per cent year over year. This suggests that Canadians are changing their preferences when it comes to the activities they participate in.

For example, camping is now a top activity for millennials in Canada with 36 per cent participation compared to only 13 per cent in the US. This represents the widest gap in participation rates of any sport/activity between the two countries.

So whether it’s camping, golfing, or running, be sure to get out there this spring to enjoy all that Canada has to offer!


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