After several months of solid growth, outdoor product retail sales growth slowed considerably in August, causing growing concern among outdoor retailers and manufacturers. According to retail point-of-sale data compiled by SportScanInfo for OIA VantagePoint – the Official Research of the Outdoor Industry – total outdoor product sales were up 0.9% in August to $816.8 million compared to $809.5 million for the comparable four-week period last year. Sales were driven primarily by growth in Outdoor Hardgoods in the Outdoor Chain Specialty, Internet and Discount/Mass channels, offset in part by declines in Outdoor Footwear and Outdoor Apparel.

“It's a hopeful sign to see the Consumer Confidence Index up in August, but people are purchasing mostly items they consider necessities, with very little add-on shopping to bolster retail numbers,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association. “As an industry we've weathered the ups and downs of the economy fairly well, growing just under five percent thus far in 2010. Consumers recognize more and more that the outdoors is an easy, accessible and affordable draw where your activities and enjoyment don't have to be tempered by your budget.”

Retailers described August as “unpredictable” and “schizophrenic” due to the vast disparity of sales trends from week to week. 

Outdoor Footwear sales declined only slightly during the month, as increases in 'barefoot' products, 'minimalist' product and Approach Footwear were offset by declines in traditional outdoor categories like Technical Hiking. Outdoor Chain Specialty Retailers, Sporting Goods Retailers, and Department Stores all reported growth in footwear sales in August, with Independent Outdoor Specialty Retailers seeing Outdoor Footwear sales dip 0.2% for the month.  One noteworthy item found that while Independent Outdoor Specialty Retailers posted the dip in Outdoor Footwear sales in August –  trend many see as a result of tighter inventories on hot limited-distribution product – sales of non-outdoor product through the channel actually increased in high-single-digits for the period.

Outdoor Apparel sales declined in the low-single-digits in August as back-to-school sales failed to materialize for many retailers. Outdoor Outerwear was a major driving force for retail sales during back-to-school in 2009, but this year sales in this category were down. Offsetting the declines in Outerwear, Women's Activewear was up for the month, particularly Active Lifestyle Dresses, Skirts and Skorts. 

The primary growth vehicle for outdoor industry sales in August was Outdoor Hardgoods. These categories were impacted by increasing participation trends in key outdoor activities like camping and hiking. In addition, more Americans are looking to National Parks and National Wilderness Areas for vacation opportunities and this shift is translating into gear sales. In particular, the Adventure Travel categories are beginning to spring back to life again following a prolonged down-turn following 9/11. Consumers are now more willing to invest in experiences and they are buying the equipment to support their travel adventures.

For a more in-depth discussion around August 2010 retail sales affecting outdoor industry businesses, Outdoor Industry Association will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, September 16 at 2pm (mountain). For more information and to register, visit

OIA VantagePoint� is the first and only full market point-of-sale data view built specifically for Outdoor Industry Association members.  OIA VantagePoint provides comprehensive visibility into the outdoor marketplace by tracking weekly point-of-sale data from over 10,000 retail doors and websites carrying outdoor products, including over 350 outdoor specialty locations.  In=depth sales information is available online within five days of the prior week close � a competitive advantage for businesses who can shift critical resources and react quickly to ever-changing consumer preferences.