Black Friday Sales Keep Sports Specialty Retailers in the Black

Boulder, CO (December 21, 2011) Preliminary Outdoor RetailTRAK™ data from Leisure Trends Group report that outdoor retail sales gained 9% over November 2010. Strongest growth came from outdoor chains (+10%) and online sales (+24%). Outdoor specialty stores were up a modest 2% in total dollars sold.  “A strong Black Friday weekend boosted sales during this month of unseasonably warm weather,” states Retail Relations Manager, Greg Shoenfeld.  According to Leisure Trends Group’s annual Black Friday survey, over half ( 51%) of specialty retailers reported increased sales during this year’s Black Friday weekend compared to 2010, with 38% enjoying double-digit increases.   With the continued growth, 2011 is looking to wrap up as a banner year for many sports specialty retailers. November marks the 12th consecutive month of growth for Outdoor retailers and with just a few weeks left in 2011, sales for the year will exceed $6 billion at core outdoor retail, the first time.

Leisure Trends Group Retail Analyst Elisabeth Stahura notes that while outdoor specialty retail saw overall dollar growth in November, specialty retailers’ bottom line may have suffered in the race for holiday sales. “Higher dollar sales may not equate to healthy profits,” she notes. In specialty stores, unit sales were down 1%; it was the 3% bump in average retail selling prices that put sales ahead by 2%.  Simultaneously, retailers’ average inventory cost jumped 8% for the month, and average margin dropped a point to 46%.  Stahura explains, “an average selling price increase combined with a decrease in margin can indicate that retailers put more expensive product on sale to drive traffic and encourage customers to ‘trade up’ for bigger savings on higher-end products.”  Stahura adds, “lower unit sales and lower margin also suggests that consumers kept their impulse shopping to a minimum, much like general retail where door-busters got consumers in the door for the big savings, but did not convince them to purchase other, more-profitable items.”

Still, the year-end outlook remains positive, especially if winter weather makes a comeback for the final weeks of 2011.  Over 60% percent of specialty retailers surveyed by LTG expect sales to increase from last holiday season, and 28% are forecasting double-digit growth.  Shoenfeld concludes, “winter weather made a last minute appearance throughout portions of the West, South and Heartland this week, with more storms on the way.  Hopefully the cold and snow will be a reminder to last minute holiday shoppers, giving a boost to key categories such as outerwear, winter boots, hats and gloves.”

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