MCLEAN, Va. (November 18, 2003) — SnowSports Industries America (SIA) reports today that the mood among retailers in most parts of the country is optimistic for the coming season based on sales through the first ten days of November. The data is based on personal interviews with a nationwide sampling of dealers and preliminary Point of Sale (POS) data received from the SIA Retail Audit conducted by the Leisure Trends Group.

Where the weather has been chilly, retailers have been experiencing sales gains of between 10% and 15% compared to the same period last year. In geographies where the weather has been warm, sales are running even or down slightly.

Cooler temperatures in November in the Rockies and California put some zip into sales despite the fires in Southern California. Dealers in Northern New England and the western part of the Midwest report that November sales have helped push the early season ahead of last year. Shops in the South report that there is a good deal of enthusiasm among customers to plan ski trips, encouraging news for area operators.

“When retail traffic picks up, as the weather turns cold, snow sport retailers breathe a sigh of relief. This early barometer is a good sign and it, along with some more snow, could foretell strong retail sales this winter,” said Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group.

Alpine ski dealers say sales of ski systems and boots have been robust but binding sales are slower.

All dealers say that soft shells are selling very well. Reports of what is selling in other apparel categories are mixed. About half of the reporting stores claim that traditional ski apparel is making a comeback in favor of crossover and outdoor garments. The other half says that traditional ski apparel is simply not cool, especially in kid’s apparel. All dealers report that women’s apparel sales are very strong compared to last year.

Among snowboard shops, unit sales are holding but deflation is causing downward pressure on dollar sales. Consumers are opting for middle range and lower priced product in boards, boots and bindings. Part of the reason, dealers say, is that they are entering the era of the aging snowboarder. A new market may be emerging here and the day of the Uberboarder fading.

All dealers mentioned that deliveries were early and coordinated, which helped boost sales in the early season.

Nine out of ten dealers interviewed are optimistic about the 2003/2004 snow sport season.

Since the 1970′s, SIA has provided snow sport manufacturers with comprehensive data, research and surveys. The first release of the 2004 SIA Retail Audit is scheduled for December 5, 2003.