Grassroots Outdoor Alliance reports YTD sales growth of 8.2% amidst broader market challenges, setting stage for ‘essential’ Connect buying show
November 1, 2022
With 102 independent specialty outdoor retailers representing 222 retail locations, the group’s overall growth in 2022 included a strong Q1 (January-March, up 10.1%), a slightly slower Q2 (April-June, up 5.6%) and a resurgent Q3 (July-September, up 9.5%).
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI (NOVEMBER 1, 2022) /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (www.grassrootsoutdoors.com), the national organization dedicated to the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail, is announcing year-to-date sales figures ahead of their upcoming Grassroots Connect buying show, scheduled for Nov. 7-10, 2022.
Based on topline revenue data provided by retail members, Grassroots group sales numbers are up 8.2% year-to-date over 2021, which was a record-setting year across the group. With 102 independent specialty outdoor retailers representing 222 retail locations, the group’s overall growth in 2022 included a strong Q1 (January-March, up 10.1%), a slightly slower Q2 (April-June, up 5.6%) and a resurgent Q3 (July-September, up 9.5%).
“The timing of the upcoming Connect show couldn’t be better, as it will set the stage for some essential conversations around both the challenges and opportunities at specialty retail right now,” said Gabe Maier, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. “It’s certainly satisfying to see how some retailers continue to thrive as we navigate the tail end of the pandemic, but it’s also important to have some direct talks about how broader market forces are creating some specific hurdles at retail. The path forward is communication, early and often, to ensure we’re all working together.”
At Tahoe Mountain Sports (Truckee, Calif.), owner Dave Polivy reported gross YTD sales growth “in the 5% range” that was on par with Grassroots group numbers. However, his moderate sales increase is countered by a problematic financial picture of lower margins and tighter cash flow due to significant inflation in both shipping and payroll costs (“Excitement around sales is good, but the caution is on the profit margin side”). He also called out oversupply as the “scariest” issue of all the challenges currently facing his business.
“The overall Q4 outlook is cautionary, but not doomsday,” said Polivy. “We are honing in our selection and trimming orders thinking there will be plenty of inventory availability come January if we need it. The worry is that these vendors are going to cut prices during holiday and ignore their own MAP policies, which would be absolutely devastating because any sale action will directly impact margins which are already getting trimmed due to payroll and shipping pressures.”
At Kristi Mountain Sports (Alamosa, Colo.), manager Raleigh Burt reported that his store’s performance this year has been well below the group Grassroots average, as the “unsustainable pace” of 2020-2021 has reverted back to pre-pandemic levels. Burt commented on the formidable headwind of negative consumer forces – such as high gas prices, a stock market downturn, and MSRP increases – as well as significant inventory issues, particularly in hardgoods. Yet he remained upbeat, stating that his overall business financials were “still strong.”
“Our plan for 2023 is to be cautious on our buys, as we foresee sales continuing to decline slightly. Our shelves are full with one to two years of certain products, and it’s natural to expect that there will be some significant discounting next year as brands find their warehouses overstocked, which means the last thing we want is to accept more inventory now that will lose value when it’s time to sell it next spring. Hopefully vendors have their eyes open to what is coming down the pipe,” said Burt.
At Trail Creek Outfitters (Glen Mills, Penn.), owner Ed Camelli reported sales numbers that are well above the Grassroots group level, largely thanks to the dominant categories of lifestyle apparel and footwear in his product selection. Camelli said he was enjoying the return of in-person shopping in his community, which is largely driven by a core “loyal and local” customer, and has seen four of the biggest months in the 39-year history of his store in 2022, with particularly large growth in September and October (up 29%).
“What does the crystal ball say? There’s certainly been a lot of chatter about big retailers being over-inventoried and asking vendors to break MAP. And that reckoning may be coming, but so far we haven’t seen it,” said Camelli.
ABOUT GRASSROOTS OUTDOOR ALLIANCE: Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is an active, independent network of 102 independent retailers, with 222 retail locations, working together for the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail. Through data collection and analysis, direct member support, specialty events and deep vendor partnerships, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is creating both a vision and roadmap for the long-term success of independent specialty retail. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is also recognized as a catalyst for the success of its retailers and vendor partners; an advocate for specialty independent retail; a promoter of education and community within the specialty channel; and a key influencer of the national outdoor industry. For more information on Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, please go to www.grassrootsoutdoors.com.
ABOUT GRASSROOTS CONNECT: Grassroots Connect is an ideally timed, invitation-only buying show for the specialty outdoor industry hosted by Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. Scheduled as early as possible in the buying cycle, Connect provides a highly efficient opportunity for retailers, reps and vendors to present, discuss, plan and collect pre-season orders. Cost-effective and simple, Connect is both an incubator and testing ground for the greater outdoor industry. Invited retailers receive a per attendee reimbursement to offset their travel costs. Upcoming Grassroots Connect gatherings include Nov. 7-10, 2022 (Kansas City, Mo.) and June 12-15, 2023 (Knoxville, Tenn.). ###