Outside Business Journal

Grassroots, Armed with New Data-Collection Tool, Publishes Annual Retail Sales Report

The findings highlight some surprising sales trends at specialty retail

Geoff Nudelman

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Following Grassroots Outdoor Alliance’s launch this week of its new nonprofit trade association, Indie Outdoor, the buying group released its first annual trend report highlighting sales data from more than half of its retail partners.

The report compiled POS data from 101 retail locations across the U.S., representing $239 million in sales and 2.08 million individual consumer receipts. The formal reporting period highlighted the up-and-down nature of independent outdoor retail from November 1, 2020 to October 31, 2021.

“Financially, it’s been a record two years,” said Grassroots executive director Rich Hill. “We’ve lost zero of our stores [as Grassroots members] and seen 30 percent year-over-year growth.” 

To create the report, Grassroots partnered with retail data platform Locally to aggregate product data, imagery, and classification of various outdoor products. The group also partnered with retail analysis service PivotPoint to compile a ranking of the top 20 brands with the most penetration across the 101 stores.

To some outdoor industry pros, the results may be surprising.

While Patagonia took the top spot, with penetration across 82 percent of retailers, footwear and apparel company On Running was a strong second-place finisher with a retailer penetration of 51 percent. In fact, three out of the top 10 brands were running brands, Hill said, with Hoka One One and Brooks Running also posting strong numbers. 

Hill was quick to point out that this first group of data was weighted heavily with Southern retailers, so the results may change as the collection group continues to diversify geographically. It may also explain why niche outfitter Free Fly Apparel—based in Charleston, South Carolina—came in ranked at No. 9 with a penetration rate of 55 percent.

It’s also probable that supply chain issues played into the results. 

While Hill was quick to champion the tenacity and passion of specialty outdoor retailers, he also noted that the supply chain crunch is still putting a lot of strain on sales, and likely dampening numbers. “If we didn’t have supply chain issues, sales would be 20 percent higher,” he said.

Hill is optimistic about the growing value of the new Grassroots’ data, especially considering that he projects the group will gain up to 50 percent more reporting locations for the next iteration of its trend report.

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