NPD Group: Outdoor Market Sales Grew 17 Percent in 12 Months

Outdoor Retailer
Inside an Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City.
Jennie Bell.

The outdoor market is on a roll. Dollar sales grew 17 percent in the 12 months ending June 2015, a huge advance from the market’s 1 percent growth during the previous year, according to new data from The NPD Group.

“Consumers today are looking for products that reflect their values. They want products that are versatile yet authentic. For outdoor footwear brands to succeed today, it’s critical for their products to strike this balance,” said Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at The NPD Group, in a statement. “Many consumers, especially millennials, are not looking for the ‘one and only’ product, but rather for products that are ‘good enough’ for their needs and have multiple applications.”

Hiking/lite hiking and cold/all-weather boots, which together comprise three-quarters of the market, both experienced a solid sales lift. Hiking/lite hiking soared 22 percent after a flat performance the previous year, while sales growth for cold/all-weather boots more than doubled versus the previous year, rising 17 percent.

The top five outdoor-footwear brands overall were Merrell, Keen, Nike, Vasque and Salomon. While this landscape mirrors the men’s market, other brands, including Sorel and Timberland, landed in the top five in the women’s and children’s markets, respectively.

“It’s always about fashion,” wrote Powell in the statement. “While men lean toward outdoor footwear with an urban focus, women seek stylish and feminine, and the kids market is more function-driven. These wants and needs are important for brands and retailers to keep in mind as they determine how to position and market their outdoor-footwear products.”

The Outdoor Retailer show kicks off Wednesday in Salt Lake City.