Retail sales for all core outdoor stores combined (chain, internet, specialty)* gained 2% compared to last Nov., moving from $406M to $412M, according to the most recent edition of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor Topline Report. Year-to-date sales (Jan.–Nov. 2009) totaled $4B, down 2% from the same period a year ago.

While Oct. 2009 was the third coldest in 115 years and the wettest on record according to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, weather in Nov. provided the opposite.  This Nov. was the third warmest in the past 115 years and the 18th driest on record. The majority of the country experienced warmer-than-average temperatures, all the way up until Thanksgiving. While the warm weather probably played a part in the 10% all-store dollar decline for outerwear, overall dollars still managed to increase 2% from last Nov.’s dismal sales.  Increases were driven by chain and internet stores, while outdoor specialty store sales fell 9%. Specialty store declines were most heavily influenced by steep losses in outerwear.

Outdoor Specialty
Total dollar sales at outdoor specialty stores slipped 9% compared to Nov. 2008, with most of the declines coming from outerwear. All outerwear fell 20% in dollars for the period, moving from $95M to $76M. During what is typically the second largest month for outerwear sales per calendar year, insulated, softshell, shell and fleece tops all lost sales. Coming from a smaller base, all apparel accessories such as scarves, hats and gloves, dropped 11% and base layer lost 19%. Positively, many other major product categories saw sales increases this month. Packs, climbing gear, winter equipment, hiking boots, winter boots, multisport shoes and multiple accessory categories all outsold Nov. 2008.

Outdoor Chain
In contrast, chain dollar sales rose 15% compared to last Nov.’s miserable sales, moving from $113M to $131M. Still, sales did not return to pre-economic downturn levels in chain stores: Nov. 2009 came in 7% below Nov. 2007’s $140M in total sales. Looking at November 2009 versus Nov. 2008, all four major product categories (equipment, equipment accessories, apparel, footwear) saw double-digit increases. Warmer-than-average weather didn’t stop consumers from purchasing seasonal items. Winter boots, winter equipment, outerwear, base layer and apparel accessories all saw increased sales for the period.

Outdoor Internet
In a trend seen online for much of the year, the average retail selling price by category continued to rise in Nov. Compared to Nov. 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. This month, all carryover products dropped 26% in total dollar sales compared to Nov. 2008. Overall sales were up nearly across the board, with notable increases in winter boots, multisport shoes, winter equipment and camp accessories. Similar to chain stores, online sales of outerwear remained positive in spite of the warmer weather; compared to last Nov. all outerwear dollar sales rose 2% in units and 5% in dollars.

Core paddlesports stores (specialty, chain, internet) brought in $9M in Nov. and $324M year-to-date, up 4% for Nov. but down 7% for the YTD period. For the very small month of Nov., paddlesports sales were largely positive. All specialty store sales totaled $7M, up 2% from last Nov., with gains coming from recreation kayaks, paddles and various accessory categories. Chain and Internet, coming from extremely small bases, also increased sales this month.


* OIA Outdoor Topline Report Outdoor and Paddle channels include: outdoor and paddle specialty, national outdoor chains, regional sporting goods chains and outdoor (and paddle) internet specialty merchants.