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Academy’s Strongest Category is Hard Goods – Plans to Take More Grill Share

Academy Sports + Outdoors has had success in the grilling category. While some might think of hardware stores when it comes to grill retailers, Academy keeps finding success in outdoor cooking.

That continued to be the case with their quarter that just ended. Their outdoor division saw a 2% increase in sales, led by brands like Stanley and YETI. They did see some slowdown in the quarter, but it was mainly due to the crawfish shortage in the Gulf Region.

It also includes our outdoor cooking category, which has been a strong suit for us over the past couple years, but had a challenging quarter, primarily driven by a crawfish shortage, to suppress sales across the entire Gulf region.

We have seen this business rebound as we exited crawfish cooking season and people started preparing for summer outdoor grilling.

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports

Academy has noted previously how they are taking market share in outdoor cooking. They have a strategy to keep taking share, which is led by their large assortment of grills, consumables and accessories.

To help capitalize on this, we also have a strong marketing plan for the summer to ensure we grow our market share. We offer the broadest and most holistic assortment in the marketplace across cooking types and surfaces, Spices and Rubs, accessories, and premium fuels, making it another key differentiator and traffic driver for Academy. 

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports

Like other retailers, Academy plans to use promotions through the summer holidays to drive traffic and sales for grilling.

We have a strong slate of promotions focused into this time period with an emphasis on key summer categories such as grilling, patio furniture, pools, and fishing to help ensure we win the driveway decision.

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports

Academy recently opened their northernmost store which is east of Columbus, Ohio. They have an aggressive store growth strategy that will continue to include filling out existing markets, and growing to new ones.

Opening new stores remains the number one growth driver for us. As we previously guided, in 2024 we plan to open up 15 to 17 new stores. During the quarter, we open up two new stores, with the first one in Knightdale, North Carolina, which is right outside of Raleigh, and the second in Greenwood, Indiana, which is south of Indianapolis. We’re excited that just a couple of weeks ago, we opened up our third new store for this year in Zanesville, Ohio, expanding our presence from 18 to 19 states and our store count to 285.

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports

Customer Data Platform

Recently, Academy has talked about relying on their new Customer Data Platform (CDP) to help drive purchases. In the case of grills, it can help turn an initial customer into a repeat customer, and also help smooth out episodic lulls.

 And so one of the customer segments that we’ve identified, for example, is high-value first-time purchaser. So think about somebody who came in and purchased, you know, a grill or an elliptical or something like that with their first purchase, and we haven’t really seen them shop us before. So we’re using kind of those lulls where we’re targeting those types of customers to come in and drive whatever the attachment is. In the case of a grill, maybe it’s more fuel, some of the spices and rubs we sell or a cover. And turning those customers into kind of high-value, one-time shoppers into loyalists over time.

Steve Lawrence, CEO of Academy Sports

They’ve continued to refine their model using their CDP to be able to understand their customers better. This helps identify what kinds of promotions are effective towards which customers.

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