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The world didn’t end, so you have plenty more SNEWS to look forward to in 2013. (And that’s a good thing, because we have a lot of pre-Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 coverage coming your way soon). But on this final day of year, we look back at our top 10 favorite SNEWS outdoor stories from 2012, ordered by date.
- A surge in avalanche airbags and other winter safety products this past year will make the category a hot topic at Winter Market 2013. SNEWS got retailers up-to-date early on winter safety selling tips with this free Retail College chapter in January 2012.
- While people of more varied backgrounds are trickling onto the trails, into retail shops and onto company payrolls, the outdoor industry remains overwhelmingly Caucasian. A whopping three of four participants today are white, according to the 2011 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report by the Outdoor Foundation. Yet the latest U.S. Census found that more than a third of the country’s population now comes from Hispanic, black or Asian groups — with a 43 percent growth in Hispanic numbers alone during the last decade. For the industry to avoid becoming an endangered species, it must address that shift. The future is just about here: Experts foresee the so-called minority becoming a majority in the next 20 years.
- In the environmental- and social-conscious outdoor industry, a small, but growing number of brands are getting designated as B-Corps. What’s it all about? We explained all the ABC’s of B-Corps to you in March.
- Americans spent more on outdoor recreation in 2011 than they did on cars, pharmaceuticals and gasoline. According to the Western Governors’ Association’s Snapshot of the Economic Impact of Outdoor Recreation, U.S. consumers spent $646 billion on outdoor recreation in 2011, 40 percent of which was spent in the Western states.
- SNEWS Staffer Ana Trujillo spent the entire summer training and preparing for what she thought would be certain death while participating in the TransRockies Run in August alongside her brother Mike. What she thought would be the worst of times, ended up being the best of times.
- “Showrooming” had to be the retail word of the year. The term describes consumers using physical stores to see, touch, and ask advice about products, but then buy them for cheaper prices online. The rise of smartphones has made the practice even easier with price-check apps. But retailers shouldn’t shun the new technology a study said, rather they should use the same technology to adapt and gain the upper hand.
- Outdoor Retailer used 2012 to contemplate moving its twice-a-year trade show away from Salt Lake City after 2014. It opened the debate to the industry, who responded with mixed opinions. There were a few clear messages though, including a strong desire to keep Winter Market in SLC, while more of a 50/50 split on whether to move Summer Market away to Las Vegas, Denver or Chicago.
- 2012 was no doubt the year of the deal for the outdoor industry thanks to cheap money and plenty of opportunities. By the end of the year, the count stands at nearly 20 outdoor brands and retailers that were acquired, merged or spun off in 2012. SNEWS recapped the trend in October and then reported on an additional flurry of deals (Katadyn buying Natural High, Richmoor and AlpineAire; Johnson Outdoors buying Jetboil; Versa Capital buying EMS; and TJX buying Sierra Trading Post) right up to the last days on the year.
- Greenpeace is placing increased pressure on the outdoor industry to clean up its act with waterproofing materials. The environmental watchdog’s recently issued “Chemistry for any weather” report found that more than dozen waterproof apparel pieces it tested, including its own branded gear, contained perflourinated toxins (PFCs), which Greenpeace deems damaging to the environment. But the brands assure us this is not new information and they’re working to fix it. 11.12
- As we hit December, winter weather remained absent through much of the early season, though many areas saw a White Christmas with hopes of more cold and snow on the way. Still, with plenty of inventory left from last year’s lack of winter, retailers cut back their orders this season, giving manufacturers a tough time.