Outdoor Retailer Show Recap

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Store owners, big name brands, product people, a cadre of designers and a roster of non-profits along with starry-eyed start ups descended on Denver last week for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show where new offerings of gear and goods for the Spring/Summer ’20 season were on display. The mood was upbeat and aisle traffic steady over the course of the show, reflecting the industry’s acceptance of the earlier show date in June, a shortened timeframe to three days and the appeal of the Show’s switch to Denver after decades in Salt Lake City.

Outdoor Retailer, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019, has morphed over the years from a transactional show to a congenial community gathering. However, as one exhibiting brand exec at the recent Show clarified to us, “Business is still getting done at OR, it’s just not about writing orders.” Indeed, the hunt for what’s new and trending, networking — in exhibitors’ booths, but increasingly happening in the aisles — and making new contacts has come to define business at today’s OR.

While the latest looks in apparel and footwear continue to blur the lines between function and fashion, with product innovation devoted more to refinement that anything revolutionary, a crystal clear trend at OR Summer Market 2019 is the continuation of retail rationalization. According to market research firm NPD, more stores had closed by April of this year, than all of 2018. This, in addition to the current situation surrounding tariffs, slow growth in footwear sales growth in footwear and declines in apparel, created a sense of uncertainty one could feel simmering below the surface of the outdoor industry’s optimistic spirit.

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Store owners, big name brands, product people, a cadre of designers and a roster of non-profits along with starry-eyed start ups descended on Denver last week for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show where new offerings of gear and goods for the Spring/Summer ’20 season were on display. The mood was upbeat and aisle traffic steady over the course of the show, reflecting the industry’s acceptance of the earlier show date in June, a shortened timeframe to three days and the appeal of the Show’s switch to Denver after decades in Salt Lake City.

Outdoor Retailer, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019, has morphed over the years from a transactional show to a congenial community gathering. However, as one exhibiting brand exec at the recent Show clarified to us, “Business is still getting done at OR, it’s just not about writing orders.” Indeed, the hunt for what’s new and trending, networking — in exhibitors’ booths, but increasingly happening in the aisles — and making new contacts has come to define business at today’s OR.

While the latest looks in apparel and footwear continue to blur the lines between function and fashion, with product innovation devoted more to refinement that anything revolutionary, a crystal clear trend at OR Summer Market 2019 is the continuation of retail rationalization. According to market research firm NPD, more stores had closed by April of this year, than all of 2018. This, in addition to the current situation surrounding tariffs, slow growth in footwear sales growth in footwear and declines in apparel, created a sense of uncertainty one could feel simmering below the surface of the outdoor industry’s optimistic spirit.

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