Retail sales for all core outdoor stores combined (chain, internet, and specialty) dipped 1% compared to December 2008, despite record cold temperatures across large swaths of the country.


Sales slipped to $1.06 billion from $1.07 billion, according to the December 2009 edition of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor TopLine Report. Sales for calendar year 2009 totaled $5 billion, down 2% from 2008.  By comparison, the U.S. Department of Commerce revised Friday its estimate of December sales by sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, estimating sales rose 5.0% from December 2008.  The DOCs advance estimate for January also pegged year-to-year sales growth for these stores at 5.0%.

In a rare instance, sales at outdoor specialty retailers grew while sales by chain stores and Internet retailers declined, perhaps reflecting consumers tendency to buy closer to need – and closer to home-in advance of inclement weather.

Total sales for outdoor specialty shops rose 3% from last December, with significant dollar gains coming from outerwear, apparel accessories and winter boots. Outerwear sales were up 3%, apparel accessories such as hats, gloves and socks were up 12% and winter boots were up 26%. Together, all outerwear, apparel accessories and winter boots accounted for 59% of December specialty dollar sales.

Chain store sales, meanwhile, slid 6% to $326 million compared to last December. December 2009 online sales dropped 5% from $196 million to $186 million. However, the channel continued long-term growth as online sales came out 7% ahead of December 2007.