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Outdoor retailers see 4% uptick in February

Published March 19, 2012

BOULDER, CO (BRAIN) Mar 19, 10:26 MT—Outdoor retailers enjoyed a much-needed uptick in sales in February according to preliminary Outdoor RetailTRAK data from Leisure Trends Group.

The report shows sales int he month were up 4 percent over the same month in 2011. The U.S. Commerce Department reported retail sales rose 6.3 percent for the same time period.

"While there is nothing we can do about Mother Nature's effect on winter sales, an early thaw isn't all bad news for outdoor retailers," said Elisabeth Stahura, a Leisure Trends analyst. "Consumers appeared to have a bit of spring shopping fever last month and they shopped outdoor stores, snow or no snow."

Online sales continued to fuel growth, jumping another 14 percent overall for the month versus the same period last year. Specialty brick and mortar stores were up 3 percent. Disappointing apparel sales negated gains in spring-ready hard goods at outdoor chains, where sales were flat compared to February 2011.

Warm-weather categories such as sportswear, trail running shoes, casual shoes, sandals, tents, sleeping bags, packs and camp accessories saw dollar growth at outdoor retail. However, Stahura notes that it wasn't all good news, as winter categories saw little to no hope for recovery.

"Winter 2011/12 ended with a whimper, and outdoor retailers need to cut their losses on winter inventory," she said. When it came to winter boots and winter equipment, consumers were not enticed by a better-than-usual February selection; sales plunged by double-digits in both categories.

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