Academy Sports is Taking Share in Outdoor Cooking

Academy Sports + Outdoors reported earnings earlier this week, and while they saw price sensitivity and macro headwinds like other retailers, they actually had success in outdoor cooking. That’s different than what we heard from The Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Taking Market Share

While other retailers have struggled so far this year with grill sales, Academy Sport said that was a bright spot on their Q1 earnings call. While bikes and fitness equipment was a laggard due to tough comps, outdoor cooking helped buoy the Sports and Recreation segment.

Sports and recreation sales declined 3%, with our team sports and outdoor cooking businesses being the strongest performers year over year. In both cases, the teams have had success by leaning into new brands and ideas, such as Blackstone in grilling, and Marucci and DeMarini bats in baseball, resulting in market share gains in these two categories.

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports + Outdoors

There are two consumer dynamics that they’re seeing play out. Consumers are looking for value, and they want innovation.

We did have some bright spots in outdoor with brands such as YETI, which benefited from a strong delivery of new products and seasonal colors. As we parse the results of the first quarter, what has become clear is that customers are reporting for both value and new innovation. In terms of value, we’ve seen customers gravitate toward deals with a focus on promotions and clearance, with both of these buckets running sales increases during the quarter. We also see this drive for value in the performance of our private brands, which outperform national brands.

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports + Outdoors

He continued that specifically they’re having success with Blackstone griddles, as was called out in their remarks about the category as a whole.

At the same time, customers have positively responded to new ideas and brands regardless of price. There are multiple places we’ve seen this, such as Bogg bags and seasonal totes, Blackstone griddles, limited edition colors in YETI, or in our new shoe brands, such as HEYDUDE and Birkenstock. Our plan going forward through the remainder of the year will be to push even harder on both the value and the newness fronts.

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports + Outdoors

That matches our thinking on outdoor cooking this year, as I called out on my most recent appearance on The BBQ Central Show. The theory being that everyone bought grills through the pandemic, especially pellet grills. While Blackstone also saw success from that, they are still a relatively new product.

What’s different about griddles than grills is you don’t have to wait for the replacement cycle, now that demand has returned to normal. Consumers will buy a griddle when they already have a grill, because it’s a new and different cooking experience. The same goes for pizza ovens, as evidenced by Ooni estimating revenue growth in 2022.

Academy isn’t just selling outdoor cooking products into increased market demand, they believe they’re taking share.

We have a lot of big ticket categories that are working. I think we’re taking meaningful share in outdoor cooking. When you have a category that you merchandise thoughtfully and you present it well and you offer good value, customers will still accept it.

Michael Mullican, CFO of Academy Sports + Outdoors

Other retailers should take notice, because Academy has an aggressive store growth plan. Pretty soon, they’ll be taking outdoor cooking market share on a more national scale.

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