Warmer-than-usual weather in November could not suppress outdoor retail sales, which rose 2% on the strength of Chain and Internet sales. Sales for November rose from $406 million to $412 million despite a 9% decline in the Specialty channel, according to the most recent edition of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor Top-Line Report. Year-to-date sales totaled $4 billion, down just 2% from the same period a year ago.

The unusually warm and dry weather caused outerwear sales to fall 10% across all channels and 20% in the specialty channel. That cost the channel $19 million in sales. November is typically the second-largest month for outerwear sales, but insulated, soft shell, hard shell and fleece tops all lost sales. However, some of these sales were likely pulled forward by unseasonably cold weather in October, when sales soared by 12% in outdoor specialty.  Specialty may also have recovered some of those sales in late December when the weather turned colder. Sales of apparel accessories fell 11% in November. Sales of base layers dropped 19% in November.

In contrast, Chain store dollar sales rose 15% compared to last November, when sales plummeted in the wake of the financial crisis. Sales rose from $113 million in 2008 to $131 million in 2009, still 7% below their level in November 2007. This November all four major product categories saw double-digit increases over the year earlier month.  In another encouraging sign, average retail selling price continued to rise online. Compared to November 2008, total online unit sales rose 3% while average retail-selling price jumped 9%, resulting in a 13% gain for overall dollar sales. Sales of carryover product (old/ discontinued or sold below cost) declined for the third straight month.

Paddlesports rebounded in November, when sales rose 4% to $9 million.