Strong outlook for outdoor sports market

Like the outdoors enthusiasts it targets, the outdoors and recreation market is a hardy one. According to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, the 12-month active universe for outdoor-gear catalogs grew 15.6% last year, to more than 10 million buyers.

All told, purchasers of outdoor sporting gear and apparel — from rifles and mountain bikes to tents and wading boots — accounted for 6% of all consumer catalog buyers whose names are available for rent or exchange.

The top gun of the market is Cabela’s, with a 12-month active buyer file of more than 3.3 million. An estimated 60% of the company’s sales come from its more than 60 catalog titles, which include books devoted to walleye fishing, turkey shooting, boating, and ATVs. Cabela’s also has the highest average order value ($119) of the top titles in the category, which include discounters Sportsman’s Guide and Sierra Trading Post (each of which has an average order of $75).

Given the size of its house file, Cabela’s experienced impressive growth. Between the fourth quarter of 2003 and the fourth quarter of 2004, it added 813,000 12-month buyers to its database, for a growth rate of 32%.

Several smaller players enjoyed even greater growth. Bicycling catalog SuperGo, owned by Performance Bicycle, more than doubled its number of 12-month buyers, zooming from 43,000 names for the fourth quarter of 2003 to 124,000 by the end of 2004. And the fourth-quarter 12-month buyers file for Duluth Pack, which specializes in “North Woods Gear,” increased 69%, to 11,000 names. Duluth Pack exchanges but doesn’t rent its file.

Total house file universe: outdoors and recreation

4Q
2002
1Q
2003
2Q
2003
3Q
2003
4Q
2003
1Q
2004
2Q
2004
3Q
2004
4Q
2004
Total universe 8.57 8.70 8.35 8.23 8.66 8.82 8.93 9.05 10.02

Outdoor gear mailers with the largest active buyer files

Rank List name 4Q 2004
house file universe
Average
order
1 Cabela’s 363,143 $119
2 Sportsman’s Guide 161,898 $75
3 Bass Pro Shops Catalog Buyers 109,996 $100
4 Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) 90,364 $96
5 Sierra Trading Post 88,231 $75
Source: ParadyszMatera

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