Snow Sports Product Retail Sales Set Record in December

McLEAN, VA (February 12, 2001) ¿ While the rest of retail was shivering from the cold temperatures and plummeting business this past December, the snow sports products industry was setting sales records at the retail level. Sales of winter sports products at all stores through the end of December were up 18 percent, compared to the same August-December period of 1999, reports SnowSports Industries America, the non-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products.

Specialty stores gained 18 percent and chain stores 16 percent in sales. “We were slammed through the holidays, and its because an early snow created such an early ski season,” said Nick Santora, manager of Willy’s Ski Shop, Pittsburgh. “We don’t normally ski before Christmas, and we were skiing before Thanksgiving, so it created an enormous amount of sales.”

The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories for the period. This is the third of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, the end of the winter season. The Retail Audit reports covering apparel and accessories will be released later.

“It could have been better, but sales in the far west, especially California, did not keep pace with 1999′s December,” said Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, the research firm that prepares the annual Retail Audit for SIA. Until recently, snowfall in the far west was not as abundant as the rest of the country, which accounted for slower sales in that region.

Specialty Stores Up 18 Percent

All sales at specialty stores were up 18 percent. In equipment only, specialty store sales were up 13 percent over 1999. In specific categories: alpine equipment was up 10 percent; snowboard equipment was up 23 percent; and Nordic equipment was up 14 percent.

Alpine ski sales were up 6 percent. Mid-fat skis continued their hot run with a 41 percent increase compared to last year. Twintip skis were up 317 percent. “A lot of the trend is toward all-mountain and mid-fat skis,” said Paul Tanguay, service manager, Northern Ski Works, Killington Vt. “People are excited because it’s a good snow year. They’ve been out of skiing for a few years and they are coming back and want the twintips and shaped skis. We’re getting a lot of trade ins for shaped skis.”

Alpine boot sales were up 18 percent compared to 1999. Adult sport performance boots led the way with a 79 percent increase. Sales of bindings were virtually even with a .1 percent drop. Pole sales were up 22 percent.

Snowboard sales were up 25 percent. Snowboard boot sales were up 18 percent and snowboard bindings were up 27 percent.

Nordic skis were up 19 percent; Nordic boots were up 4 percent; bindings were up 27 percent; and Nordic poles were up 21 percent.

Chain Stores Score 16% Increase

All sales at chain stores were up a 16 percent increase over 1999. In the categories: alpine equipment was up 5 percent compared to 1999; snowboard gear was up 27; but Nordic equipment was down 16 percent.

Alpine ski sales at the chains were down one percent. Alpine boot sales had an 11 percent increase compared to last season. Bindings were up 3 percent. Pole sales were up 53 percent.Snowboard sales at chain stores were up 35 percent. Snowboard boot sales were up 19 percent and snowboard bindings were up 22 percent. In Nordic sales, skis fell 13 percent; boots were off 25 percent; bindings dropped 37 percent; and poles strode ahead 342 percent.

“Last year was a phenomenal year ¿ one of the best ever, and this year was only slightly off that pace,” said Sig Quinn, owner of Sturtevant’s Ski Shop, Bellevue, Wash., in published reports. “We were expecting it to be far off because the media hyped that retailers would suffer due to our lower snowfall. But we really didn’t. Hardgood dollars exceeded softgoods’. We’re out of a lot of necessity products, parkas for examplle. We’re re-ordering what we can now, but there are a lot of things you just can’t re-order.”