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ACTIONWATCH:  After two consecutive months of positive YoY sales performance the ActionWatch panel experienced a -13% YoY decline in April 2018 compared to the same month last year.  This pushes YTD 2018 (Jan-April) into negative territory with a -2% YoY decline compared to Jan-April of 2017.  While the double-digit decline for April is undoubtedly disappointing, it is possible that April 2018 may represent only a dip in a longer term upward trend, caused by the comparison against a strong April 2017.

With the exception of the Northwest, all other regions, including the Southwest, South, Northeast and Midwest, experienced YoY double-digit declines in April 2018.  All of the broad categories except for Wetsuits (+1%) experienced double-digit declines, including Apparel, which was down -12% overall (-10% for women, -16% for men), Hardgoods (-13%) and Accessories (-16%), while Footwear declined -15% (-21% for women, -12% for men).
Despite the broad declines there are still a few bright spots in terms of specific individual categories that experienced growth. On the women’s side we once again saw growth for Tops in L/S T-Shirts (+47%), S/S T-Shirts (+11%)Fleece/Hoodies (+4%) and Jackets (+21%).  In addition, there are still some signs of strength in Bottoms/Completes with growth in Fleece Pants (+134%)Denim (+43%)Skirts (+131%), and Pants (+6%).  In Women’s Accessories we only saw growth in Tote Bags (+31%), while Wetsuit Accessories (+89%) and Standard Wetsuits (+8%) grew in Women’s Wetsuits. Only one of the Women’s Footwear categories, Sport Shoes, experienced +5% growth compared to the same month last year.
In the larger men’s categories we also found fewer segments to highlight. For Tops we can point to L/S T-Shirts (+26%), Fleece/Hoodies (+10%) and Jackets (+7%) while Fleece Pants (+130%) was the only growth category in Bottoms/Completes.  In men’s accessories the only bright spot a was the smaller Tote Bags category (+173%), while Wetsuit Accessories (+70%) and Standard Wetsuits (+4%) led the way in the Wetsuit category.  None of the men’s footwear categories grew.
In April we saw YoY sales growth in less than a handful of the core surf and skate hardgoods categories, namely Wakeboard Hardgoods (+6%), Softboards (+3%), and Surfboard Bags (+10%).

We should once again exercise caution in interpreting the April 2018 results and not ring the alarm bells prematurely, especially since the strong April 2017 we’re comparing the April 2018 results to was primarily due to a calendar anomaly.  However, the weak April results for almost all geographies, for both genders and across the large majority of the categories are valid reasons for concern.  May and June will tell us whether April is just a dip that temporarily slowed the continued upward trend or whether Q1 2018 was just a temporary uptick that interrupted the further decline of the core channel.  Let’s hope the former proves to be the case as we move towards the summer.

We also saw declines down under with our Australian panel where April 2018 sales shrunk -19% compared to April 2017, marking a return to the declines we saw prior to March 2018. We’ll publish those results very soon.

Author: Patrik Schmidle, President.