Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 12

THE PULSE

The Grassroots
Is Greener
Grassroots Outdoor Alliance President Rich Hill gets candid on
how savvy retailers have beat the odds and how to read industry
sales data when it comes to the specialty sector.
At the start of the shutdown last spring, a big assumption was that independent specialty retailers were going to be hit hard. But according to Grassroots Outdoor Alliance sales data,
these retailers had a strong year. How did they pull it off?
In a word, grit. Many of these stores have been in business for decades and know a thing or two
about being nimble and headstrong. We saw retailers reduce hours, implement digital buying,
change their product mix, and scrap their way through 2020. We also witnessed Grassroots members eagerly sharing ideas with each other, like how to do appointment-based shopping hours or
trim expenses without impacting customer experience.
In the main office, we doubled down on education, helping with how-to's on PPP funds, best
practices on store sanitation, curbside pickup, BOPIS programs, and general moral support
navigating such a challenging year. I'd also credit our vendor brands for their awareness of the
challenges we were facing and their willingness to work together to find solutions. Their support
was invaluable.
In a recent data analysis in this magazine, one takeaway was that specialty retail has suffered in
the same time frame. What's the disconnect?
Since Outdoor Retailer published the " State of the Outdoor Industry " article last month, we've
been working closely with the authors at NPD to better understand the broad difference between
their data and ours. Their report commented that specialty retailer sales were down 32%, but
Grassroots internal reporting showed 2020 as being essentially even-down
0.48% through the end of December, even with store hours down 15% due to
Rich Hill
the shutdown in March. This was based on comparisons with revenue from
our 195 specialty retail locations in 2019. That's an amazing success, and it was
really hard to see another reputable data source seeming to tell a different story. However, when we dug into the details, we learned that NPD's comments
were only meant to describe in-store, noninternet sales, not represent the full
breadth of a modern specialty retail business.
How can data be used to provide a more precise picture of the health of
the independent specialty retailer sector?
Specialty retailers have always been an independent bunch. And while this
trait has historically made them unique and wonderful as gateways to the outdoor experience, it has also been a bit of a hurdle for anybody who wants sector
sales data. We've been working hard to rectify this.
Over the last 24 months, with a data provider from the indie bookstore
space, Grassroots has developed a comprehensive tool that consolidates our
point of sale data for the benefit of our retailers and vendor partners. As of today, we are pulling data from eight POS systems and 70 retail locations, and

12 OUTDOOR RETAILER

/ February 2021

are on-boarding new retailers every week. We
anticipate complete and shareable data reporting before the end of 2021.
According to Grassroots data, about 30%
of specialty independent retailers are up
double digits this year. What's their secret?
While around a third of Grassroots specialty
retailers had an incredible year with more
than double-digit growth, there were also
specialty retailers who had a very tough 2020,
and we don't want to diminish their experiences in any way.
The reality is that we have stores that are
both way up and stores that are way down,
with very few that were actually even. Factors
that swung things one way or another included the spike in hardgoods and away from
sportswear, the effect of local laws that were
put in place on lockdowns and essential businesses, and the willingness of a given store
owner to collaborate.
What challenges do independent specialty
retailers face moving forward?
I'm definitely concerned about the emotional
and spiritual impact that 2020 had on entrepreneurs everywhere, and I think we all need
to acknowledge that this is a wound that needs
as much attention as refinding that " businessas-usual " groove. O.R.

Courtesy Grassroots Outdoor Alliance

BIG PICTURE


http:// https://www.grassrootsoutdoors.com/

Outdoor Retailer - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - February 2021

Outdoor Retailer - February 2021
CONTENTS
THE PULSE
HEADLINES
BIG PICTURE
CASE STUDY
IDEAS
THOUGHT LEADER
THE WEEKLY CHAT
OUTDOOR RETAILER WINTER ONLINE
SIZE MATTERS
BREAD + BUTTER
GEAR GALLERY
HOT PICKS
COUNTER CULTURE
THE VIEW
FIELD NOTES
#SHOPLIFE
BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Outdoor Retailer - February 2021
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - CONTENTS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 6
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THE PULSE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - HEADLINES
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 9
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 10
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 11
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - BIG PICTURE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 13
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - CASE STUDY
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 15
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - IDEAS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THOUGHT LEADER
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THE WEEKLY CHAT
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - OUTDOOR RETAILER WINTER ONLINE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 20
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 21
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - SIZE MATTERS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 23
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 24
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 25
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - BREAD + BUTTER
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 27
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - GEAR GALLERY
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 29
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 30
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 31
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - HOT PICKS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 33
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 34
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - COUNTER CULTURE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THE VIEW
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 37
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 38
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 39
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - FIELD NOTES
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - #SHOPLIFE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Cover4
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