Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
KNOXVILLE, TENN (FEBRUARY 17, 2021) — Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the national organization dedicated to the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail, is releasing final 2020 year-to-year sales data.
With double digit growth across the group in December, Grassroots retailers finished the 2020 calendar year down -0.34% compared to 2019. Regional shutdowns due to the pandemic hit retailers hard in March, April, and May of 2020 — but from then on many stores hit the accelerator and never looked back. From June ‘20 through January ‘21, Grassroots retailers nationwide were up +10.8%, buoyed by an +18% sales spike in the first month of 2021.
“This was clearly the year of volatility in the outdoor industry. Looking back through our historical sales data, there isn’t another year that even comes close to matching the up and down swings of the past 12 months,” said Gabe Maier, vice president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance.
The Grassroots Outdoor Alliance sector report is compiled monthly from the point of sales data of 94 member retailers, representing 195 doors nationwide. The data and accompanying analysis is unique to the outdoor industry, and is shared with Grassroots member retailers’ monthly summary reports.
Building on this framework, Grassroots is preparing to significantly increase the depth and detail of their data with the launch of Switchback, a proprietary retail data tool inspired by and incorporating best practices from the independent bookstore industry. Switchback is currently in the secondary testing phase, and is expected to be fully online with individualized Retailer Snapshots, Brand Dashboards, and Style Performance Reports by fall 2021.
Grassroots year-to-year retail sales change numbers include: January ‘20 (-2.5%), February ‘20 (+6%), March ‘20 (-33%), April ‘20 (-58%), May ‘20 (-9%), June ‘20 (+20%), July ‘20 (+10%), August ‘20 (+3%), September ‘20 (+21%), October ‘20 (+8%), November ‘20 (-3.75%), December ‘20 (+10.5%), and January ‘21 (+18%)
Within the generally positive group numbers, however, there is also a deeper story of individual wins and losses. In 2020, 38% of stores were up more than 5%, 36% were down more than 5%, and 26% fell in-between.
According to Maier, the gap in sales performance was largely determined by regionality and store type. The majority of retailers with significant sales increases for 2020 were boosted by significant hardgoods demand and/or their proximity to an outdoor destination. The majority of stores with the largest declines were primarily soft-goods focused and/or located in areas of the country that had more restrictive lockdowns due to the pandemic.
“Throughout all of the volatility, there are several other factors to consider when sizing up the health of independent specialty over the past year. While sales are still king and can make up for a lot, many of our stores were quick to adjust their expenses through reduced hours and tightly controlled inventory. We’ve heard countless times from many stores with sales declines that while overall revenue was down, profitability was up. Our general sense is that 60-70% of businesses in Grassroots are heading into 2021 in a better cash and inventory position compared to years past,” added Maier.
ABOUT GRASSROOTS OUTDOOR ALLIANCE: Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is a national association working together for the health and growth of independent specialty outdoor retail. With 94 retailers and 195 doors in 42 states nationwide, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is creating both a vision and roadmap for the long-term success of independent specialty retailers, through data collection and analysis, direct member support, specialty events, and deep vendor partnerships. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is also recognized as a catalyst for the success of its retailers and vendor partners; an advocate for specialty independent retail; a promoter of education and community within the specialty channel; and a key influencer of the national outdoor industry. For more information on Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, please go to www.grassrootsoutdoors.com.
ABOUT GRASSROOTS CONNECT: Grassroots Connect is an ideally timed, invitation-only buying show for the specialty outdoor industry hosted by Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. Scheduled as early as possible in the buying cycle, Connect provides a highly efficient opportunity for retailers, reps and vendors to present, discuss, plan and collect pre-season orders. Cost-effective and simple, Connect is both an incubator and testing ground for the greater outdoor industry. Invited retailers receive a per attendee reimbursement to offset their travel costs. Upcoming Grassroots Connect dates include Nov. 8-11, 2021 (Kansas City, Mo.).