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Posted by: Sportslink on 01/18/2017

‘All change at Outdoor Retailer show’

‘All change at Outdoor Retailer show’

Sportslink’s European correspondent Hank Aldrich reports on his impressions of the US Outdoor Retailer trade show, held in Salt Lake City earlier this month:

“In the 30 years of my career in the sporting goods/outdoor industry, I have not seen change happening so quickly as now.

This change is happening exclusively in the way business is being done and is in part due to the certain "sameness" in the marketplace in terms of innovation and product development.

For sure, the events of 2016 are proof of this change with bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, continued growth of e-commerce, verticalisation, and new business models (mostly B2C) are all trending.

The big changes of trade show dates and the way industry organisations and trade shows are worker closer together further underscore these observations.

Let me give you some specifics:

• Sports Authority was the largest big box retailer in sporting goods in the USA with 500 doors – they are now out-of-business and are likely to be followed by others.

• One major player in the outdoor market told me they are totally committed to their B2C strategy, whether it is growing e-commerce or opening more of their own stores, with no focus on the trade.

• More brands are moving to B2C.

• Three important brands exited the US market in 2016: Berghaus, Berghans, and Millet and major brands are up for sale, with changes in executive teams.

• During the show, I listened to a newcomer brand in outdoor products explain how, after going from being a window washer in 2009 to starting his brand which claims to offer something different to the market leaders, he has now decided to scrap selling to the trade and go directly B2C.

In spite of having some international success, they will focus now only on consumers, being able to pinpoint advertising and marketing to places where the consumer is most apt to be thinking about their product.

They are also offering a 60-day "give it back if you are not satisfied" guarantee.

• Trade show dates have been re-aligned going forward starting in 2018 to reflect buying group and manufacturer timelines, with Outdoor dates this year being weeks earlier than in 2016.

Reports Aldrich, “I don't have the statistics, but for sure the traffic was down.

“The only good news seemed to be that winter was very good in the west and it has been cold in the east.”