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ASB MAGAZINE: After a -13% YoY decline in April 2018, which was followed by a flat May*, the ActionWatch panel inched back into positive growth territory with close to +2% growth across all categories in June of 2018, fuelled primarily by growth in the women’s segment (+5%).  So, after a challenging start in April, we ended Q2 with a respectable -3% decline and indications that the uptick we experienced in the first quarter has the potential to continue for the remainder of 2018.  Once again there were some significant differences by geographic region. The Southwest, the South and the Northeast were all flat while the Midwest declined by -9% and the Northwest grew by +19%.  This may support the notion that consumers in the South and Northeast that were affected by unusual weather patterns in April and May started returning to the stores in June to fill some of that pent-up demand. Hopefully that trend will accelerate through the rest of the summer.

In terms of broad categories, we saw the Wetsuit category (+16%) maintain its momentum, Apparel still growing in low single digits (+3%), and for the first time in quite some time we saw the Footwearcategory in positive territory with +7% growth.  Hardgoods stayed flat and Accessories declined by -8% overall.

There are quite a few bright spots in terms of specific individual categories that experienced growth. On the women’s side, very similar to previous months we once again saw growth for Tops in L/S T-Shirts (+65%), S/S T-Shirts (+25%)Fleece/Hoodies (+22%) and Jackets (+103%).  In addition, there are signs of strength in Bottoms/Completes with growth in Fleece Pants (+83%)Denim (+86%)Skirts (+85%), Pants (+12%)Shorts (+13%) and Board Shorts (+2%).  In Women’s Accessories we saw growth in Socks (+38%Tote Bags (+35%), Purses (+18%) and Shoulder bags (+10%), while Standard Wetsuits (+30%), Wetsuit Accessories (+10%), and Rashguards (+2%) grew in Women’s Wetsuits. Even two of the Women’s Footwear categories, Casual Shoes (155%), and Sport Shoes (+32%) experienced growth compared to the same month last year.

In the larger men’s categories, we found fewer segments to highlight, but there continue to be pockets of strength. For Tops we can again point to L/S T-Shirts (+23%), Jackets (+25%), Wovens (+7%), S/S T-Shirts (+5%) and even Tanks (+3%), while Fleece Pants (+31%) and Other Swimwear (+9%) were the only growth categories in Bottoms/Completes. For the first time in quite a while we witnessed growth in Men’s footwear categories, led by Sport Shoes (+10%) and Casual Sandals (+32%).  In men’s accessories the biggest bright spot was Tote bags (+476%), followed by Duffel (+54%) and Shoulder Bags (+66%), while Wetsuit Accessories (+61%) and Standard Wetsuits (+31%) led the way in the Wetsuit category.

In June we saw YoY sales growth in a few additional core surf and skate hardgoods categories, led by Softboards (19%), Traction Pads (+13%), Surfboard Leashes (+10%), Wakeboard Hardgoods(+9%), Fins (+6%), Bodyboards (+5%), and Trucks (+3%).

Here is to what will hopefully turn out to be a fantastic summer!

*Please note that we re-stated May 2018 data, which now correctly reports flat growth compared to May 2017.

Author Patrik Schmidle