MCLEAN, Va. (February 12, 2004) — Overall sales for the entire winter sport market (including specialty and chain stores), increased slightly by 1.47 percent in dollars to $1.35 billion compared to $1.33 billion in 2002 for the holiday period of August through December according to the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit. Unit sales were ahead 4.6 percent. Sales at chain stores were up 2.66 percent compared to last season. In dollars, that translates to $289.9 million in sales compared to $282.4 million in 2002. Unit sales tracked 3.33 percent ahead. Sales for the month of December in chain stores were $159.9 million compared to $150.3 million, an increase of 6.4 percent. Unit sales spiked even higher for the month by increasing 9.0 percent. “Chain stores saw increases in dollars sales in key categories of alpine and Nordic ski equipment, snowboard apparel and accessories,” said Julie Lynch, director of market research for SIA, the not-for-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This is the third report of six that look at sales through March 31, 2004, the end of the winter season.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard, Nordic and telemark) in chain stores was up 2.6 percent, tracking at $89.6 million compared to $87.3 million in 2002. Alpine equipment (including skis, boots, bindings, poles and systems) was up 5.1 percent to $40.9 million compared to $39.0 million last year. Units gained 5.2 percent. Snowboard equipment (including snowboards, boots and bindings) was down 4.1 percent to $43.1 million. Sales for snowboard equipment in 2002 tracked at $44.9 million. Nordic equipment (including skis, boots, bindings and poles), a bright spot, was up 55.8 percent to $4.5 million. Telemark equipment (including skis, boots and bindings) tracked at $1.0 million.

Apparel was down 2.4 percent to $111.1 million compared to $113.9 million last season while accessories gained 9.9 percent to $89.2 million as compared to 2002, which was $81.2 million.

Alpine Ski Sales Pick-up Momentum in December

Alpine skis did fairly well in chain stores over the holiday season. Alpine ski sales (including integrated systems) increased 7.7 percent in dollars to $18.7 million while units gained 6.9 percent. Increases were due to the sale of ski binding systems (up 104.2 percent to $6.3 million). In December, the average retail price for an integrated system was $434, up from $412 in December 2002. Season-to-date, however; average retail prices fell $42 to $400. Alpine skis, excluding integrated systems, fell 13.2 percent in dollars to $12.4 million. Average retail price fell from $192 to $174, a 9 percent drop. Unit sales of alpine skis only fell 4.2 percent.

Junior skis (up 11.3 percent to $1.1 million), fat skis (up 85.2 percent to $643,424), twin tips (up 34.4 percent to $534,861) and carve (up 12.0 percent to $860,356) all registered gains. The largest category in unit sales, midfat skis declined 16.9 percent to $6.6 million. Skiboards barely registered any sales, declining 60.6 percent to $263,468. Season-to-date, women’s specific skis have gained 6.7 percent in unit sales.

Alpine boots also experienced gains, increasing 4.7 percent to $14.8 million. High performance boots are hot this year, increasing 78.7 percent to $4.5 million. Both sport (up 9.4 percent to $4.6 million) and junior (up 0.63 percent to $920,865) boots registered gains. Recreation boots saw declines of 36.4 percent to $2.1 million. Soft boot unit sales gained 99.2 percent, but dramatically lower retail prices held dollar increases to 12.6 percent.

Stand alone alpine binding sales edged up 1.5 percent to $5.2 million. Adding back in bindings to ski binding systems, sales were up 37.5 percent to $11.5 million. The DIN 8-11, 59 percent of all freestanding units sold, was down 9.7 percent to $3.0 million while DIN 114 made gains of 24.4 percent in dollars to $1.3 million. At average retail price of $51, junior bindings increased 5.9 percent to $602,916. Lastly, alpine poles increased 2.1 percent to $2.3 million on a 10.7 percent unit increase.

During the holiday period of December, Nordic equipment saw gains of 69.9 percent in dollars to $3.2 million compared to $1.9 million last December. For season-to-date, skis (up 53.3 percent to $1.8 million), boots (up 67.2 percent to $1.7 million), bindings (up 52.3 percent to $590,587) and poles (up 35.1 percent to $468,032) all saw significant gains. The telemark category also saw big increases for skis (up 119.5 percent to $354,949), boots (up 58.8 percent to $383,920) and bindings (up 144.4 percent to $297,503).

Snowboards Sales Increase Only Slightly During the Holidays

During the holiday period snowboard equipment sales did not do as well in chain stores as in specialty. Boards increased slightly to 0.02 percent in dollars to $19.4 million, while units increased 5.4 percent. This December, the average retail price for a board was $175, the same as a year ago. The hot ride in chain stores is freestyle, increasing 51.1 percent to $3.4 million. With unit sales up 50 percent over last season-to-date, carry over boards accounted for 41 percent of all boards sold this season. All other snowboard categories saw declines, including freeride/freestyle (down 40.3 percent to $875,314), freeride (down 1.5 percent to $6.7 million) and all mountain boards (down 29.0 percent to $3.3 million).

Both snowboard boots and bindings declined. Boots decreased 1.9 percent in dollars to $13.5 million while bindings tracked behind 13.4 percent in dollars to $10.1 million. Non step-in boots increased 6.6 percent to $10.8 million while non step-in bindings declined 6.3 percent to $8.3 million. Chain stores are seeing significant increases in women’s (up 22.7 percent) and junior’s (up 10.0 percent) specific snowboards this season in unit sales.

Snowboard Apparel is Hot in Chains

Alpine apparel had slow sales over the holidays. Alpine tops declined 4.1 percent in dollars to $66.9 million. Soft shell parkas, with sales of $1.5 million season-to-date, more than tripled last season’s numbers or a gain of 219.6 percent. Insulated and shell parkas both saw declines, 4.0 percent ($23.0 million) and 6.2 percent ($16.7 million), respectively. However, women continue to buy in both categories insulated (up 19.4 percent to $9.1 million) and shell (up 27.6 percent to $5.0 million) even if men are not (dollars declined 22.6 percent to $9.5 million for insulated parkas and16.6 percent to $10.8 million for shell parkas). Vests (no fleece) and fleece (includes vests) both saw increases in dollars of 8.2 percent ($802,670) and 22.5 percent ($15.7 million), respectively. With a 43.8 percent decrease, carry over had much less influence on the alpine top category’s bottom line. Apparel suits did well in chain stores, gaining 25.2 percent in dollars to $1.5 million and 18.3 percent in units.

Alpine bottoms struggled even more, declining 10.1 percent in dollars to $20.4 million. The only bottom categories to see any up tick were bibs (up 242 percent to $1.5 million), insulated waist pants (up 17.4 percent to $2.7 million) and softshell waist pants (up 206.4 percent to $188,059). All other alpine bottoms saw declines; shell waist pants (down 7.8 percent to $6.3 million), stretch waist pants (down 31.4 percent to $629,046), fleece waist pants (down 28.3 percent to $1.2 million) and juniors (down 20.5 percent to $2.4 million).

Snowboard apparel sold great over the holidays (up 10.4 percent in dollars to $22.2 million). Both snowboard tops (24.8 percent in dollars to $12.3 million) and bottoms (3.4 percent in dollars to $8.1 million) were up. Men’s (up 10.3 percent to $5.6 million), women’s (up 46.3 percent to $4.8 million) and junior ( up 26.9 percent to $1.9 million) snowboard tops all made significant gains. Men’s (up 6.6 percent to $3.9 million) and junior (up 10.8 percent to $1.3 million) snowboard bottoms did well while women’s (down 3.3 percent to $3.0 million) lagged behind.

Double Digit Growth in Helmet Sales Has Finally Come to an End

Equipment accessories were up 4.4 percent to $34.6 million. The big sellers during the August through December time period were goggles (up 19.8 percent to $6.0 million), sunglasses (up 17.5 percent to $8.4 million) and snowshoes (up 14.2 percent to $1.8 million). All other categories, including snowdecks/skates (down 33.6 percent to $491,179), auto racks (down 19.2 percent to $3.3 million), and helmets (down 17.0 percent to $4.5 million) saw declines.

Apparel accessories were hot sellers during the month of December, gaining 22.8 percent in dollars and 11.5 percent in units. For season-to-date, apparel accessories gained 13.7 percent to $54.6 million. The majority of categories saw increases: winter boots (up 111.5 percent to $4.1 million), gloves (up 6.4 percent to $10.5 million), base layer (up 17.4 percent to $13.9 million), turtlenecks (up 46.2 percent to $1.2 million) and headwear (up 9.4 percent to $8.1 million). Two categories saw declines, mitts (down 2.4 percent to $2.4 million) and socks (down 20.4 percent to $3.0 million). p 6.6 percent to $3.9 million) and junior (up 10.8 percent to $1.3 million) snowboard bottoms did well while women’s (down 3.3 percent to $3.0 million) lagged behind.

Double Digit Growth in Helmet Sales Has Finally Come to an End

Equipment accessories were up 4.4 percent to $34.6 million. The big sellers during the August through December time period were goggles (up 19.8 percent to $6.0 million), sunglasses (up 17.5 percent to $8.4 million) and snowshoes (up 14.2 percent to $1.8 million). All other categories, including snowdecks/skates (down 33.6 percent to $491,179), auto racks (down 19.2 percent to $3.3 million), and helmets (down 17.0 percent to $4.5 million) saw declines.

Apparel accessories were hot sellers during the month of December, gaining 22.8 percent in dollars and 11.5 percent in units. For season-to-date, apparel accessories gained 13.7 percent to $54.6 million. The majority of categories saw increases: winter boots (up 111.5 percent to $4.1 million), gloves (up 6.4 percent to $10.5 million), base layer (up 17.4 percent to $13.9 million), turtlenecks (up 46.2 percent to $1.2 million) and headwear (up 9.4 percent to $8.1 million). Two categories saw declines, mitts (down 2.4 percent to $2.4 million) and socks (down 20.4 percent to $3.0 million).