Nielsen admitted that it was “indefinitely suspending” the Action Sports Retailer (ASR) trade show due to consolidation in the action sports space as well as the challenging economy. At the same time, it said it will be increasing its effort to expand the retail and brand base as well as the culture of the Outdoor Retailer Trade Shows in Salt Lake City “to better serve the growth needs of the action sports communities.”

As reported, reports surfaced on late Tuesday that ASR, the biggest trade show for the action-sports market on the West Coast, was calling it quits. The twice annual Action Sports Retailer Convention had been held in San Diego for over 20 years and had been in existence for 29 years.

Serving the surf, skate, swim, moto and fashion industry, ASR gathered over 750 brands and 5,000 buyers and 18,000 attendees gather twice a year, according to Nielsen press materials. The last event was held Aug 13-15, 2010 with the next scheduled for Jan13-15, 2011.

Nielsen also runs Interbike, Outdoor Retailer, Fly Fishing and Health & Fitness.

In an e-mail message late Wednesday to ASR customers that was also posted on the ASR Facebook page, Andy Tompkins, VP, Nielsen Sports Group, wrote:

Dear Valued ASR Customer:

As you well know, the action sports industry has been undergoing profound change over the past several years. Recent consolidation among major brands and even meaningful changes in the retail environment has significantly altered the landscape.

As a direct reflection of the marketplace, the ASR shows have experienced the cause and effect of these market shifts. We have worked diligently to evolve the format of each show to keep ASR, the industry's largest west coast trade shows, ahead of the changing economic environment while also meeting the evolving needs of this industry.

Although this has been a particularly challenging period of adjustment for the market, we are confident the industry will thrive and continue to evolve for years to come. The action sports lifestyle has huge consumer appeal and favorable youth demographics along with leading, creative and successful brands and retailers.

However, given the competition among key brands and the consolidation among retail shops, it appears for now, to be mostly a market share battle for floor space.

This dynamic, combined with tight credit markets, has been hard on the new, smaller or up-and-coming brands as well as many independent surf, skate and boutique retailers. We expect this consolidated and competitive situation to continue to characterize the action sports industry in California for some time to come.

Given these fundamental changes, it has proven to be increasingly difficult for the ASR shows in San Diego to serve the new needs of the action sports marketplace. Therefore, we are indefinitely suspending these events.

We recognize, however, the continued need for brands in the market to not only maintain strong relationships and partnerships with current retailers but also to seek prospective new domestic and international retailers with which to grow.

To this end, we will be increasing our efforts to expand the retail and brand base as well as the culture of the Outdoor Retailer Trade Shows in Salt Lake City to better serve the growth needs of the action sports communities.

The two semi-annual Outdoor Retailer Trade Shows are authentic and have their own unique emotional connection and cultural experience for attending retailers, brands and media. These shows are proven international specialty trade shows attended by buyers from 50 states and over 40 countries.

Each OR show is seasonally timed for Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer product previews. OR Winter Market 2011 will be held January 20-23 at the Salt Lake Convention Center with an all mountain demo held on the snow January 19 at the Solitude Mountain Resort.

OR Summer Market will be August 4-7 also held at the Salt Lake Convention Center with an open air demo held on the lake's edge at Jordanelle State Park August 3.

The OR Shows have been successfully serving the specialty outdoor industry since 1983 with participation from leading outdoor brands such as Patagonia, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Columbia, Marmot, Sierra Designs, Timberland, Salomon, Jansport, Merrell, Woolrich, Helly Hansen and over 850 other exhibiting companies.

Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the Outdoor Industry association (OIA), states “Over the past several years, more and more action sports and water sports companies have leveraged the unique strength of Outdoor Retailer to grow their business.

For example, emerging activities like stand-up paddling have found specialty outdoor retailers to be very receptive to the new energy and ideas that the surf culture embodies.

Outdoor Industry Association and its Board of Directors strongly believe that action sports companies and their youth driven culture play a vital role in growing and sustaining the active outdoor lifestyle.

The water culture at OR is thriving and strong. Rocky Mountain, Great Lakes, and Texas retailers represented at the Outdoor Retailer shows offer the actions sports community a gateway to new sales.

In particular, brands such as Hobie, C4, Surftech, Naish, Riviera, Doyle, Dakine, Quiksilver, Scott Hawaii, Reef, Sanuk, Body Glove, O'Neill Clothing, Ocean Minded, Cobian, FCS, Simple, Smith Optics, Oakley, Xcel wetsuits and over 60 other ASR exhibitors also currently exhibit at Outdoor Retailer looking to extend their reach across the US and overseas.

While we realize this won't work for everyone who had been attending or exhibiting at the ASR shows in San Diego, we invite those from the action sports lifestyle industry who feel they would benefit to reach a broader base of successful active and outdoor lifestyle retailers and brands from across the USA and around the world, to participate in Outdoor Retailer in 2011.”

Hugelmeyer continues, “the American consumer has become a consummate sampler of active outdoor experiences. Outdoor Foundation research shows that 8 out of 10 active Americans want to try a new activity or participate in that lifestyle.

“The data strongly suggests that each niche activity segment is dependent on the broad and diverse lifestyle as a whole. It also explains why retailers in the outdoor space embrace and support a year round portfolio of active lifestyle activities that range from hiking to climbing, skiing and snowboarding to paddling, yoga and action sports.”

We are proud to have focused ASR along the California coast since 1981 and will continue to explore ways to do so but it's time to broaden our efforts for the action sports community beyond the coastline. We are eager to help with any information you need as you explore the opportunities of exhibiting at or attending the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter events.


Andy Tompkins

VP Nielsen Sports Group