The Outdoor Industry Association reported a 1.1 percent increase in outdoor product sales for March. This comes as good news as February’s final sale numbers fell slightly from January 2012, although the number was higher than February 2011’s total.

While the cold-weather outdoor products may have taken a small hit because of the unseasonably warm weather, warm-season products have started selling earlier than usual.

Original press release issued by the Outdoor Industry Association on April 13th, 2012:

Outdoor product sales for the fiscal month of March rose 1.1 percent to $786.7 million, according to the OIA VantagePoint Outdoor Industry Monthly Trend Report released today by Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and The SportsOneSource Group. Early spring weather hastened the end of the snow sports season and accelerated sales of warm weather gear and softgoods in March.

Outdoor Apparel sales increased 3.2 percent to $245.4 million. Sales growth in Outdoor Apparel was strongest in the Internet channel (+37.7 percent) and the Independent Outdoor Specialty channel (+9.0 percent) for the five-week period. The Specialty channel represented one-third of Outdoor Apparel sales in March in the channels tracked by SportScanInfo for OIA VantagePoint.

Outdoor Hardgoods sales were up 1.6 percent to $381.1 million, led again by Paddlesports. Hardgoods sales in the Internet channel fell for the fourth consecutive month, a contrast to the strong growth seen for Apparel and Footwear in the channel.

There wasn’t much to cheer about in the Outdoor Footwear business in March. Outdoor Footwear sales declined 3.2 percent to $159.9 million on weaker Barefoot and Winter Boots business. The growth trend in Barefoot may have peaked after two years of meteoric sales growth.

Looking ahead, tepid employment gains in March may indicate that it wasn’t just retail sales that were pulled forward due to warmer weather; seasonal hiring may have occurred early as well. Continued high gas prices, a bumpy stock market, and ongoing uncertainty over Europe may give consumers pause just as the critical summer season is set to begin.

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 more than 10,000 retail doors and websites that carry outdoor products, including nearly 450 outdoor specialty locations. It is the broadest view of outdoor product Internet sales available in the market. 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.

photo: Sigurd Decroos

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