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Press Releases

September Outdoor Sales Mixed Bag, Buoyed by Accessory and Internet

Overall September numbers reported in the most recent edition of The Outdoor Topline Report, produced for OIA by the Leisure Trends Group are a mixed bag.

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Overall September numbers reported in the most recent edition of The Outdoor Topline Report, produced for Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) by the Leisure Trends Group are a mixed bag as September saw one of the worst economic crisis in recent history affect all types of consumer spending. The Commerce Department reported overall personal spending dropped .3 percent in September, the largest drop since June 2004.

According to The Outdoor Topline Report, core outdoor retailers saw sales in all three channels (specialty, chain, and internet)* total $351M this month, 2% above September 2007. Unit sales for all three channels increased 5% for the same period. But specialty stores posted a decline for the first time since October 2007.

Channel & Category Breakdown
Breaking down the September sales by store channel, chain store sales totaled $174M, gaining 6% in units and 4% in dollars compared to the same month last year. Independent outdoor specialty stores sold $111M, a 5% decline from September 2007. Unit sales also dropped 5% for the period. Outdoor internet merchants were not slowed down by the economy at all. In September, the entire outdoor internet channel brought in $67M, increasing sales by 20% in units and 11% in dollars compared to September 2007.

Similar to findings in other industries, core outdoor shoppers seemed reluctant to buy big-ticket items such as tents, sleeping bags, packs, instruments and sport racks. However, lower-priced camping equipment accessory categories gained 15% in units and 8% in dollars helping buoy overall outdoor sales.

Apparel and footwear were mixed, with outwear and sportswear remaining flat, boots and shoes made modest gains and sandals declined.

Following the accessory trend, apparel and footwear accessories saw healthy increases compared to last September. Look for accessories and small-ticket items to gain traction in a soft economy.

All paddle product sales from all three channels (specialty, chain, internet) totaled $26M in September, down 13% from September 2007. Unit sales decreased 8% for the same period. Paddle specialty stores had sales of $20M this month, suffering a 17% decline in units and a 15% decline in dollars. Total chain paddlesport sales reached $4.5M, down 3% from September 2007. The internet channel saw September sales increase 14% in units but decrease 7% in dollars with $1.8M in total sales. Year-to-date, all paddlesport sales from all three channels totaled $327M, down 1% from the same period in 2007.

Big-ticket paddlesport items saw the largest declines in September. Boats and paddles lost sales in each of the three distribution channels, while accessories and apparel saw sales increase in chain and internet stores.

August & September Sales Combined
September sales numbers alone miss a key factor in sales growth. A large portion of revenue in August and September occurs during the traditional Labor Day Sales. In 2007, Labor Day Sales were mostly counted in September, while this year’s sales gave August the boost because of the calendar.

Looking at August and September together, all products in all stores grew 8% in units and 7% in dollars. Equipment increased 6% and 5% in units and dollars, respectively. Equipment accessories grew 16% and 13% respectively and apparel grew 5% and 4%. Footwear dropped 10% in units but grew 5% in dollars.

To access the OIA outdoor retail sales Topline data and to review trends by industry channel and category, OIA members can log in at or call 303.444.3353 for assistance.

For additional brand growth and brand and model market share reports, please contact Leisure Trends Group at 303.786.7900 x107

*OIA Topline Report Outdoor and Paddle channels include: outdoor and paddle specialty, national outdoor chains, regional sporting goods chains and outdoor (and paddle) internet specialty merchants.


About Outdoor Industry Association
Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) is a national trade association whose mission is to ensure the growth and success of the outdoor industry. OIA provides trade services for over 4000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives and retailers in the outdoor industry. OIA programs include representation in government/legislative affairs, market and social research, business-to-business services and youth outreach initiatives. Educational events include the annual Rendezvous™, Outdoor University®, and the Capitol Summit. Outdoor Industry Association is based in Boulder, Colorado, and is the title sponsor of the Outdoor Retailer tradeshows. For more information go to or call 303.444.3353.