Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (GOA) reported year-to-year retail sales gains in its March membership update last week.

Based on Grassroots member sales reports, independent outdoor specialty retailers see a “year-to-year sales rebound that has met or surpassed “business as usual,” with a 101 percent gain in March 2021. The group is up 8 percent on a rolling 12-month basis, with Q1 2021 reported figures showing a 34 percent increase over Q1 2020,” said GOA.

“The data is totally accurate, but should still be viewed with cautious optimism. Coming from the depths of the shutdown to robust outdoor demand paired with widespread supply chain issues, we’re clearly headed into a pretty crazy data phase in the outdoor sector,” said Rich Hill, president, GOA.

During the Spring 2020 shutdown, GOA member retailers were severely impacted due to regional pandemic restrictions which forced partial and full closures from mid-March through early June. Close to 20 percent of surveyed Grassroots retailers reported closing their doors to customers on March 16, 2020, while 95 percent had closed by the end of that month. The resulting sales impact for the group in 2020 included decreases of 33 percent in March, 58 percent in April and 9 percent in May.

To date in 2021, year-to-year sales change numbers tell a different story with boosts in January (+20 percent), February (+14 percent) and March (+101 percent). Looking beyond last spring’s sales number, “GOA retailers were up 25 percent in a two-year comparison between reporting retailers in 2019 and 2021,” said GOA.

“It’s going to be hard to resist clickbaity titles like the one on this press release as we move forward through 2021, but it’s essential to go deeper than just the headlines and question all published performance metrics,” added Hill.

Average group sales margins for March 2021 are up close to four points over 2020, an indication that current sales strength is based on full-price sales for new spring product, rather than discounted fall/winter holdovers.

Photo courtesy Yeti