McLEAN, VA (March 5, 2000) – The strong sales of snowboard gear continued through the end of January and helped pull up sales industry-wide compared to last winter, according to the fourth SIA Topline Retail Audit of the winter. Overall, retail sales were off 4.7 percent for the first six months of the winter (Aug. 1- Jan. 31). The SIA Topline Retail Audit tracks sales of winter sports products at the retail level.

The snowboard figures showed apparel increasing by 28.8 percent and equipment up 17.8 percent. “There are several reason for this,” said Jim Spring, who compiles the SIA Retail Audit through his Leisure Trends Group research company. “One is demographic. Kids are buying snowboards. They’re parents aren’t buying skis boots or bindings. This fact, combined with late snow, has created a slow start for the alpine categories.”

Specialty store retailers were 4.4 percent behind last year and chain stores were 8.2 percent off last year’s pace.

The last two Audits indicate a shift in what kind of gear consumers are buying and where they are buying it. “A big switch is going on. Chain stores are switching their emphasis to snowboarding and away from skiing. This is good for the snowboard industry,” said Spring. “Consumer research indicates that young people starting out buy more often in chains. Specialty stores are where you buy when you get older and more core. This is consistent with the theory that experienced alpine skiers gravitate to specialty stores.”

Snow Sports Specialty Shops Slide
All equipment sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops dropped 10.7 percent in dollars while apparel was up 3.4 percent and accessories were off 3.4 percent compared to last year.

Alpine Equipment — All alpine equipment fell 15.1 percent with skis off 9.4 percent and boots down 20.9 percent. Snowboard Equipment — Snowboard equipment was up 17.8 percent with boots up 22.9 percent and boards showing a 14.4 percent gain.

Apparel — Snowboard outerwear showed a healthy 28.8 percent increase.

Equipment and apparel accessories — Equipment accessories were down 8.4 percent but helmets showed a 42.3 percent increase and auto racks were up 5.6 percent. All apparel accessories were down a marginal .8 percent, with underwear (up 9 percent) showing a gain.

Chain stores decline
All equipment at chain stores showed a 26.1 decrease while all apparel was down 5.5 percent and accessories fell 4.8 percent.

Alpine Equipment — Alpine equipment had a 39.7 percent drop as a category and skis went downhill with a 32.8 percent decrease

Snowboard equipment — Snowboard gear displayed a 60.3 percent increase with boards up 57.5 percent and boots topping out with a 91.4 percent increase.

Apparel — Women’s insulated parkas were up 56.3 percent and men’s shell parkas were up 46.4 percent. Snowboard apparel was up 2.8 percent.

Equipment and apparel accessories — Equipment accessories were down 18 percent, but helmets showed a 180.2 percent boost. Apparel accessories were up 15.3 percent with winter boots up 47.6 percent.

The SIA Retail Audit captures cash register receipts from more than 700 retail outlets. The data is extrapolated to generate retail sales activity for the U.S. snow sports retail market. The complete report is available from the SIA sales department, (703) 556-9020.

SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is the national, nonprofit, member-owned trade association of competing on-snow product manufacturers, suppliers and distributors working together to promote and develop the winter sports industry. Association information about SIA can be found at www.snowsports.org.

SIA produces the SIA Vegas Show; the largest order writing show and gathering place for the snow sports industry. Information about the March 3-7, 2000 show can be found at www.siavegas.com.

Proceeds from the SIA Vegas Show fund market development programs for all snow sports disciplines. This winter’s programs include Donate-a-Ski/Donate-a-bboard, Cool School (alpine), Winter Trails (snowshoe), Keep on Ridin’ (snowboard) and Snow Trax (nordic). For more information about SIA and its programs, check out www.snowlink.com.