Outdoor product sales for the fiscal month of February 2012 dipped slightly on continued weather-related challenges, according to the OIA VantagePoint Outdoor Industry Monthly Trend Report released today by Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and The SportsOneSource Group. Overall retail sales of outdoor products declined 0.5 percent to $653.6 million.

Hopeful signs abound, however. Retailers who did not double-down on winter product have enjoyed strong sales of spring product. For many, the first week of February brought the shift in seasons about a month ahead of schedule, prompting consumers to switch from boots to boats and fueling a nearly 12 percent increase in Paddlesports sales. Outdoor Apparel, including Outerwear, showed continued resilience in the face of warmer weather as key outdoor brands maintained — and even grew — their fashion appeal with consumers.

Outdoor Apparel sales increased 1.6 percent to $303.0 million in the trade channels tracked by SportScanInfo for OIA VantagePoint. Sales declined slightly the first two weeks of the month but increased in the final two weeks as more warm weather inventory arrived in stores. Sales grew nearly five percent in the last week of the month.

Outdoor Hardgoods sales were also up 1.6 percent to $224.1 million. February is historically an “in between” month, when retailers use President’s Day weekend to kick off liquidation of winter sports products. This occurred much earlier this year as snow was late or never materialized, and most retailers moved to clear their floors early or put inventory aside for next year.

Tough comparisons with a snowy and cold February 2011 helped pushed down Outdoor Footwear sales 8.7 percent to $126.5 million. Strong performances by Barefoot Running, Boat Shoes and Surf/Beach Lifestyle Footwear products could not overcome sharply lower sales of Winter Boots — particularly Shearling Boots, which seem to be falling out of favor given lagging sales.

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.

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