Sales within the core, $18.8 billion U.S. outdoor industry declined 2% in the 12 months ending August 2018, according to The NPD Group. Beneath the surface, however, bags and outerwear have been growth opportunities for this wavering market.
Though the smallest category within the outdoor industry, accessories grew at the fastest rate thanks to a rise in bag sales. After declines last year, backpacks (+4%), duffle bags (+6%), and fanny/waist packs (+52%) have all experienced growth in the last 12 months.
“The bag business is being driven by travel and consumers’ affinity for experiential spending, which remains a hot opportunity for the outdoor market,” says Matt Powell, VP and senior industry advisor, Sports, The NPD Group. “An unexpected comeback, the fanny pack is regaining popularity as consumers embrace its convenient, compact, and lightweight qualities. Outdoor brands are breathing new life into the product through water resistant fabrics, security features, and adding ‘hip pack’ to its list of names to go by.”
The $3.0 billion outerwear market represents nearly 30% of total apparel sales in outdoor. Outerwear sales grew 2% in the last 12 months, after flat sales the year prior. The growth was driven by a 3% increase in outerwear tops. In terms of outerwear type, non-insulated shell (+5%) and fleece/wool (+2%) were the top performers.
“Outerwear had a very good run early in the year as the long, late winter drove sales. Because of that, inventories are clean right now, which has benefitted early sales as well,” says Powell. “Outerwear’s success is largely dictated by the weather. If the Old Farmer’s Almanac holds true this winter season, the predicted warm and dry weather across much of the U.S. will likely hold back sales.”