The European Outdoor Group (EOG) is aiming to collect more statistics from retailers, including those who are not yet members, after a pilot project conducted in the last 18 months to track sell-out figures.

Meanwhile, its latest preliminary members' survey showed that the European outdoor market performed better last year than in 2017 for only 60 percent of them, down from 94 percent a year earlier. In contrast, 27 percent of the members said their markets were down, compared with only 3 percent a year earlier.

In contrast with the past, hardware outperformed apparel and footwear. While almost 40 percent of the sample reported declines in apparel and footwear, only 20 percent said that outdoor equipment was down and 55 percent said it increased by 5.1 percent or more. The responses given for apparel and footwear were more polarized, but footwear fared a little better, with 38 percent of the sample reporting an increase of 5.1 percent and more, compared with 27 percent for apparel.

In fact, equipment items like tents were mentioned among the items that sold more during the exceptional heat wave that hit Europe in the past year. Hiking and multi-functional shoes also fared well along with items such as light clothing and insulated water bottles. While 30 percent said that their sell-in orders had increased, about 40 percent of the respondents reported a negative impact from the heat wave, mentioning in particular items such as insulated jackets, rainwear and sleeping bags.

Also the recent 2018/19 winter season has not been so strong, to judge by comments from the respondents. In general, it started out well but turned bad in December. On the other hand, only 27 percent of the companies said they had started the new year with excess inventories.

The outlook for the current year is generally optimistic, as only 3 percent feel that their business will be slightly worse and another 3 percent much worse. Slightly better sales were predicted by 47 percent of the respondents and much better sales by 17 percent of them. Among the main challenges, they listed Brexit, the general economic situation, the level of sport participation, the changing retail landscape, the internet price war throughout Europe, the lack of innovation, the plethora of products in the market and an increasing pressure to address the end of life issue for sustainability in apparel.

The final findings will be given by the EOG during the OutDoor by Ispo fair four months from now.