Retail sales for all core outdoor stores combined (chain, internet, specialty) dropped 2% compared to last June, moving from $388,5 million to $382.5 million, according to the most recent edition of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor Topline Report. Equipment and key footwear categories saw sales grow for the period. Sales for the entire first half of 2009 totaled $2.2 billion, down 5% from the same period in 2008.
Although total outdoor sales were down in June, outdoor vacations continued to resonate with consumers this summer, fueling sales in key categories. The National Park Service kicked off the first of its three free-entrance weekends on June 20-21, to great success. Yellowstone National Park reported record attendance levels through June 2009, and many other parks were tracking above average attendance as well. Across all three store channels, products related to camping, backpacking and hiking saw healthy sales in June. June was also an unusually cold and wet month across most of the US, possibly contributing to higher than average outerwear sales across all three store channels.
Specialty stores lost 6% in total dollar sales compared to June 2008. However, there were positive sales in categories related to outdoor recreation and camping. Three season backpacking tents jumped 25% in June dollar sales, synthetic fill mummy bags grew 4%, climbing gear was up 7%, hiking boots 17% and multisport shoes 24%. Cooler temperatures and wetter conditions helped outerwear sales gain 6% compared to last June; the shell top category was largely responsible for the increases, with dollar sales up 15% for the month.
In chain stores, total sales were down 1% for the month of June. Product trends were similar to specialty stores this month, with backpacking tents, synthetic sleeping bags, day packs, climbing gear, hiking boots, multisport shoes and trail running shoes seeing sales gains over last June. Outerwear sales were up in chains as well. The entire category grew 4% for the period. Shell tops, by far the largest category with $7 million in June sales, grew 8% and fueled most of the growth in the category.
Sales continue to grow online, as the entire channel grew 5% in dollar sales this month and 6% YTD. Equipment and apparel were key sales drivers in June. All equipment increased 18% to $20 million this month as tents, sleeping bags, packs and climbing gear all gained. Outerwear gained 20% as both the out-of-season insulated and fleece top categories and the in-season shell top category posted healthy growth. Other key categories in June included all camp accessories, with $9 million in sales and up 13% and hiking boots, trail running shoes and multisport shoes, all with positive June sales.
The cool, wet weather that helped drive outerwear sales did not do the paddlesports business any favors. Core paddlesports stores (specialty, chain and internet) brought in $51 million in June and $191 million in the first half of 2009, dropping 12% and 8%, respectively, against the same periods last year. Specialty, chain and internet stores each lost sales this month, with biggest overall declines coming from boats and paddles in both chain and specialty stores. Positively, boats sold well online in June, gaining 10% in dollars for the period.