According to the most recent OIA Topline Report, sales for chain, internet, and specialty outdoor stores declined 4% compared to last September, moving from $350 muillion to $336 million. This decline occurred in spite of a holiday shift, moving Labor Day from August to September this year. Year-to-date sales (January – September 2009) were $3.2 billion, down 5% from the same period a year ago.

Outdoor specialty stores’ sales increased 3% compared to September 2008 with healthy gains in equipment, equipment accessories and footwear. Sleeping bags sales increased 11%, tents 19%, and packs 13%. Equipment accessories performed well in September with mattresses, cookware, coolers, first aid kits, and camp furniture all having significant double-digit gains. In dollars, multisport shoes surged 60% and hiking boots gained 15%.

Outdoor Chain sales were down 9% in September with declines in each of the four major product categories. There were bright spots, however. Several sportswear categories performed well with short-sleeved shirts, sleeveless shirts, dresses and skirts/skorts all outperforming September 2008. In footwear, winter boots, casual boots and multisport shoes turned substantial gains.

Outdoor Internet sales were down 3% for the month, according to the report. Sleeping bags and climbing gear both grew as did equipment accessory sales. The “cash for clunkers” program may have played a role in the 22% jump in sport rack dollars this month. Bright spots in apparel included insulated tops, shell bottoms, dresses and base layer. Hiking boots jumped a healthy 31% in units and 45% in dollars.

Core paddlesport stores (specialty, chain, internet) brought in $26 million in September and $302M year-to-date, up 2% for September but still down 8% for the YTD period. Positively, boat sales did perk up in September; no doubt assisted by the shifting Labor Day Holiday. In all channels, recreation kayak sales increased 12% in units and 15% in dollars compared to September 2008. Those gains, however, were not enough to erase the year-to-date 11% unit and 5% dollar declines for the overall category.