Outside Business Journal

Grassroots Specialty Shops Grew 29 Percent in Sales Last Year, According to New Report

Member stores in Grassroots Outdoor Alliance continued to expand, despite ongoing pandemic and supply-chain challenges

Bella Wilkes

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Grassroots Outdoor Alliance’s specialty retail growth report for 2021 is out, and the numbers look good, to say the least. Year over year, the national cohort of independent shops was up 29 percent in sales.

Grassroots members came into the first quarter of 2021 riding a wave of sales growth from the back half of 2020, the numbers show, and posted year-over-year increases of 28 percent by the end of Q2. The back half of 2021 brought similarly healthy sales trends with the help of a strong holiday season. From August through December, total sales were up 18.1 percent from 2020, with boosts in November (+36.2 percent over 2020) and December (+15 percent over 2020). 

Grassroots also welcomed 14 new retailer members to its ranks in 2021, bringing its total membership to 99 retailers with 196 locations across the country.

“The new normal has certainly shown that consumers value the indie experience and smiled on independent specialty outdoor retailers,” said Grassroots President Rich Hill in a release.

Grassroots collected data for the 2021 report mainly through individual reporting among its members. It was the first large release of numbers since the group launched its new data-focused trade association for independent retailers, called Indie Outdoor. Though this report isn’t fully based on numbers collected through that effort’s central technology—the POS data company PivotPoint—it does lay the foundation for future Grassroots reports based entirely on Indie Outdoor numbers. The first full financial report exclusively based on PivotPoint data will be available mid-February.

Sitting on two solid years of sales growth, board members at Grassroots are confident in the continued expansion of specialty outdoor retail and emphasize optimism going into 2022. 

“For both Grassroots retailers and vendors, the only constant in the last 12 months has been the revolving door of business challenges,” Hill said. “Every week has been a new adventure, but fortunately this is a remarkably resourceful community that clearly thrives when things get tough.”