The great outdoors are even greater, thanks to demand for cold weather products. The NPD Group reported Tuesday the U.S. outdoor industry’s winter categories spanning outerwear and undergarments to boots and accessories grew in 2014 and is showing “strong momentum” in 2015.
Cold and all-weather boot sales increased two percent to $187.3 million from January 2014 to December 2014 — an upward trend reflected across a number of winter boot brands, including Columbia Sportswear, which hit a record $2.1 billion in sales in FY2014. Likewise, in January Ugg reported third quarter 2015 sales (ended Dec. 31, 2014) increased 6.5% to $736 million, compared to $690.9 million from the same period the year prior.
“During winter, necessity and Mother Nature have been playing in the industry’s favor,” said NPD Group sports industry analyst Matt Powell. “The wintry end to 2013 cleaned up inventories for brands and retailers, causing the industry to start the season with entirely fresh stocks in 2014, a situation we haven’t seen in a number of years. On top of that, a seasonably cold November drove big gains that held through the end of 2014.”
Headwear in the outdoor winter category saw the most growth, with sales up 16 percent to $463.9 million. Undergarments grew eight percent to $195.1 million, and outerwear sales increased three percent totaling $2.2 billion for the year.
A healthy bump in average retail selling prices helped, too. Overall, cold and all-weather boot prices increased eight percent in 2014.
In order to sustain higher prices, Powell said the outdoor category must continue to innovate, rather than rely solely on bad weather. “Necessity prompts purchases, but it is innovation, including improvements in fabrics, that’s driving average selling prices and, in some cases, unit sales as well,” he said. “The outdoor industry is staying ahead and performing strongly in this way. Retailers and manufacturers must continue their pursuit for ways to keep the industry fresh, because this will help keep their sales on the plus side, even if Mother Nature hands us a milder winter.”