McLEAN, VA (December 22, 1999) – Retail sales of snow sports products in all stores for the first three months of the season, August 1-October 31, 1999, show a robust 5.5 percent increase in dollar sales, according to the first SIA Topline Retail Audit of the year.

SIA, SnowSports Industries America, publishes five audits tracking product sales during the winter. However, snowboard sales in specialty snowboard shops were down one percent in units and three percent in dollars, and down even more in chain stores. On a more positive note, snowboard apparel sales were up in both specialty and chain stores.

Driving this winter’s early gains were snow sports specialty store’s 8.1 percent increase in dollar sales to $223.4 million and a 10.2 percent increase in units over the comparable 1998 period. On the other hand, chain store sales were up 4.2 percent in units but down .7 percent in dollars to $66.2 million.

Taking a long view, sales of skis and snowboards in this period show an 18.1 percent increase in units compared to 1997. “An 18 percent increase in combined unit sales of skis and snowboards is vitality,” said Jim Spring of Leisure Trends, the research firm that compiles the Retail Audit for SIA. “This growth is better than golf and almost any other sport you can name.”

SNOW SPORTS SPECIALTY STORES SHOW INCREASESSpecialty store equipment sales rose 8.6 percent in dollars ($108.8 million) and 7 percent in units. In apparel, sales were up 9.7 percent in dollars ($68.9 million) and 14.4 percent in units.

Alpine Equipment — All alpine equipment jumped 10.9 percent in dollars to $80.4 million, and went up 7.3 percent in units at specialty stores. Alpine skis were up 15.3 percent in dollars to $38.7 million and 5.5 percent in units.

Nordic Equipment — Nordic equipment rocketed up 59 percent in dollars to $2.8 million and 49.2 percent in units. Nordic skis showed the greatest advances in the category with a 77.5 percent increase in dollars to $1.1 million and a 70.3 percent increase in units.

Snowboard equipment — Sales of snowboard equipment were down 1.1 percent to $25.6 million. Snowboards were down 3.8 percent in dollars to $13.7 million and units fell 8.9 percent.

Alpine and snowboard apparel — Women’s shell parkas were the rage with a 32.8 percent increase in units and a 23.3 percent increase in dollars ($3.4 million). Snowboard apparel showed a 20.8 percent increase in dollars ($9.7 million) and a 12.3 percent increase in units.

Equipment and apparel accessories — Accessories as a category were up 9.7 percent in units and 4.6 percent in dollars to $45.6 million. Breaking accessories down, equipment accessories showed an 11.1 percent increase in units and a 12 percent increase in dollars ($23.7 million). For apparel accessories, there was a 9 percent increase in units but a 2.4 percent decrease in dollars ($21.9 million).

Helmets, auto racks and snowshoes drove the increases in equipment accessories. Helmets were up 62.7 percent in units and 59.1 percent in dollars ($2.7 million). Auto racks showed a 17 percent jump in units and a 23.4 increase in dollars ($7.7 million). Snowshoes sprinted to a 94 percent increase in units and a 12.7 percent increase in dollars ($488,000). In apparel accessories, headwear jumped 29.9 percent in units and 30.8 percent in dollars ($3.1 million).

Services – Retailer services (tunings, repairs and rentals) dropped 62.6 percent in units and fell 66 percent in dollars ($2.3 million). Rentals were off 80.7 percent in units and down 77.8 percent in dollars ($853,000).

APPAREL SALES LEAD CHAIN STORESApparel was the big winner in the chains with a 20.9 percent increase in units and a 31.1 percent increase in dollars ($22.9 million). Equipment sales at chain stores fell 22.5 percent in units and were down 24.7 percent in dollars ($19 million).

Alpine and snowboard apparel — Women’s jackets had tremendous gains as insulated parkas were up 119.1 percent in units and up 145..6 percent in dollars ($1.8 million). Women’s shell parkas were up 72.3 percent in units and up 73 percent in dollars ($652,000). Snowboard apparel was off 1.8 percent in units but up 10.4 percent in dollars ($1.2 million).

Snowboard Equipment – Snowboard equipment was up 5.6 percent in units but fell 20.9 percent in dollars ($5.4 million). Snowboards were down 3.6 percent in units and down 28.6 percent in dollars ($3 million).

Alpine Equipment – Alpine equipment dropped 28.6 percent in units and fell 25.2 percent in dollars ($12.6 million). Alpine skis were down 4.2 percent in units and down 15.8 percent in dollars ($6.7 million).

Nordic Equipment – Nordic equipment in chain stores fell 39.1 percent in units and dropped 36.9 percent in dollars ($912,000). Nordic skis dropped a mere 1.4 percent in units but fell 18 percent in dollars ($249,000).

Equipment and Apparel Accessories — Accessories as a whole were up 4.9 percent in units and 1.6 percent in dollars ($24.4 million). In equipment accessories, all products were off 47.5 percent in units and down 36.1 percent in dollars ($8.6 million). Only helmets showed an increase with a 324.3 percent jump in units and a 314.3 percent increase in dollars ($465,000). Apparel accessories showed a 43.1 percent increase in units and a 50.2 percent increase in dollars ($15.7 million).

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 SIA’s sales department, (703) 556-9020.