Monday, November 07, 2005

Wild Commodification

The Outdoor Industry Association released what I consider a somewhat gloomy report detailing retail sales during the spring/summer season. Their data shows that equipment sales continue to decline while apparel sales grow. This reflects poorly on the state of outdoor recreation. Fewer people are actually participating in outdoor sports but more people are buying the "image". Companies are starting to rely more and more on image apparel and less on equipment sales.
According to OIA's report, sales in the Outdoor Specialty and Outdoor Chain channels increased 3.5% during the spring / summer season compared to the same period in 2004. The majority of growth was driven by increased sales in the apparel category (up 3.1% in Outdoor Specialty and 16% in Outdoor Chain) and footwear categories (up 16.5% in Outdoor Specialty and 6.7% in Outdoor Chain). At the same time, equipment sales fell 12.3% in Outdoor Specialty stores and 7% in Outdoor Chain stores.
This trend is also seen in the declining use of National Parks and other public lands.

2 Comments:

Blogger tom said...

My guess is there's a certain amount of dot-com crash blowback happening here. All those kids fresh outa college and flush with cash bought an inordinate amount of outdoor gear... now they're all getting married and don't need new stuff, and the next generation is addicted to video games.

So sales fall from a distorted peak created by the dotcom boom. It'd be interesting to see the sales curve over the past 15 years to see if there's any correlation to the dotcom boom.

10:17 PM  
Blogger outofdoors said...

Good point. The dot-com boom might possibly have created a spike in people buying outdoor gear. But the fact remains that fewer young people are participating in "wilderness recreation" and more and more of the users are simply getting too old to keep going out.

Thanks for the comment!

5:04 PM  

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