What hammocks are saying about consumers

A man in a sports and outdoor store shops for items for outdoor activities.
Predrak Vuckovic | Getty Images
A man in a sports and outdoor store shops for items for outdoor activities.

No, you aren't seeing things.

That credit card charge your husband made in December may, in fact, have been for a hammock.

According to data from the NPD Group, an unseasonably warm winter didn't just take a bite out of outerwear sales. As sales of jackets, vests and parkas dropped 6 percent during the fourth quarter, those for camping equipment jumped 13 percent.

NPD attributed the unusual spending patterns to both above-average temperatures and shifting shopper preferences.

"Despite the atypical weather, there is still a shift taking place when it comes to consumer preference for outerwear, which is altering the category landscape," said Matt Powell, vice president and sports industry analyst at The NPD Group.

"Driven by the millennials, consumers are choosing lightweight puffy jackets and multiple layers that incorporate new technologies as opposed to traditional, heavy winter coats."

Powell added that the camping industry has done a good job promoting the "unconventional" and "modernized" side of camping to millennials, which can include everything from a backpacking trip to regular activity on an apartment rooftop.

In both the fourth quarter and full year, sales of camp hammocks, backpacking tents, tent poles, tarps and other tent accessories all grew double digits, or up to 36 percent.

As it pertains to the fourth quarter, camping gear wasn't the only beneficiary of balmy temperatures in the Northeast. Home Depot said last month that comparable sales in its outdoor garden category grew in the mid-single digits, while other outdoor categories saw double-digit comparable sale increases.