The 2016 STATE OF SURF | Three things you need to know


The 2016 STATE OF SURF | Where surfers shop, Direct-to-Consumer sales trends, & the Fate of Surf Retail

TransWorld Business just released its 2016 STATE OF SURF report. Inside, you'll find a look into the surf community: from industry leaders at the retail and business level, to the core surfers who are shaping the lifestyle and its trends.

In response to the outpouring of interest in this year's report, we wanted to highlight the top takeaways.

  1. Surfers still want to carry a new board out of their local shop (or grab a custom board from their local shaper). Conversely, they're willing to purchase a wide range of surf gear and everyday necessities online.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-4-41-41-pmIt's no surprise that T-shirts are a big volume driver, but a couple categories that also stood out in sales were accessories, sandals/footwear, and boardshorts. Interesting to note: the surf community is less willing to purchase standup paddle-boards online than they are surfboards.

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2. The vast majority of surf industry manufacturers we surveyed sell direct to consumers.

What we've learned from speaking to brands is that most consider it a must in today's retail landscape. Despite the overall success of selling direct, however, the majority of manufacturers also say the lion share of their business is driven through non-branded channels (re: independent retailers).

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3. What is the Fate of Retail? It's a question we've asked frequently over the last several months, as many independent, regional, and national retailers alike have closed their doors. From Amazon to brands selling direct, we asked independent specialty shops to share their most serious concerns for 2016, and got a wide range of answers.

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Clearly, Amazon and the ongoing issue of market saturation is weighing heavy on most shops' minds. Most independent specialty shops have realized that they either need to work with the platform to leverage its power, or—more importantly—dial in their strategy to offer something the global retail "superpower" can not (i.e. in-store experiences, connecting consumers with ambassadors and the lifestyle they are passionate about.)

Perhaps Heritage Surf & Sports Manager Kevin "KevMo" Morris put it best when he recently said surf shops need to go back to being "clubhouses" for the communities they serve. It's clear brands also believe this, based on the fact that the majority of them still rely heavily on independent doors to communicate their ethos and message to the masses.


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