Alpine gear, apparel and accessories lead the way with largest gains;2002 holiday season one of the best in recent years

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (January 29, 2003) – Abundant snowfall coupled with stellarresort conditions led to increased sales in retail stores nationwide throughDecember. Overall sales for the entire winter sports market increased by 7.0percent in dollars to $1.35 billion compared to $1.26 billion in 2001, accordingto the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) retail audit, released this week fromits 2003 trade show. “Alpine gear, apparel and accessories led the way withthe largest gains, contributing to one of the best holiday retail seasons inrecent years,” said Julie Lynch, director of research for SIA. The SIA RetailAudit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This isthe first of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, 2003, throughthe end of the winter season.

Sales through the end of December at specialty ski and snowboard shops were up8.4 percent compared to the same time period last season. In dollars, that translatesto $1.1 billion in sales compared to $971.6 million in 2001 and $881 millionin 2000.

In addition, unit sales were up significantly from last season tracking 14.4percent ahead. Specifically for the month of December, sales were up $520.4 millioncompared to $473.7 million last year, which was a 9.8 percent increase.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) in specialty stores was flat, tracking1.2 percent ahead of last season to $434.3 million from $429.1 in 2001. Alpinegear increased 3.7 percent or $287 million as compared to $276.8 last year.

Snowboard equipment was down just slightly in sales, 2.7 percent or $130.2 million in sales. Sales for snowboard equipment in 2001 tracked at $133.9 million.

Apparel and accessories lead the way with the largest gains in specialty storesup 10.3 percent or $302.2 million and 17.9 percent or $316.8 million, respectively.Last season, sales for apparel were $273.9 million while accessories were $268.6million.

SURGE IN SKI SYSTEM SALES AND MIDFAT SKIS – JUNIOR ALPINE SKIS PRODUCE STRONG SALES

Alpine ski sales were down 5.6 percent to $96.4 million, though units were up1.9 percent, excluding ski systems. Ski system sales were solid and seem to beindicative of a strong trend. “There were more ski systems sold through theend of December than all of last season,” noted Julie Lynch. “The 92.4 percentunit gain helped push all alpine equipment sales ahead of last year. The averageretail price for ski systems dropped from $723 in 2001 to $625 in 2002.”

Midfat skis are seeing the most action this season. This class represents 45percent of all skis sold. Fat skis and twin tips are also up substantially indollars, 171.3 percent and 26 percent, respectively. The second largest categoryin alpine skis is juniors, tracking 38 percent ahead in units this season.

ALPINE BOOT SALES SURGED – HIGH PERFORMANCE IS LARGEST CATEGORY

Through December 2002, alpine boot sales surged up 5.1 percent in dollars to$108.8 million compared to last season. The gains are in high performance (up19 percent in dollars) the largest category, recreation (up 35 percent in dollars),soft boots (up 136 percent in dollars) and juniors (up 34 percent in dollars).According to Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, “Soft boots should be out-of-stockby the end of March.”

Bindings sales are slow this season, down 10.2 percent in dollars to $38.5 millionexcluding ski systems. However, they do slightly better if system sales are addedback. Binding sales were only down 2.4 percent in units. Poles vaulted ahead15 .7 percent in sales to $8.9 million.

SALES IN WEST REFLECT SNOW CONDITIONS

“Slow sales in the West did not help the snowboard business,” according to JimSpring. Boards, boots, and bindiings all tracked behind last season in dollars.Snowboard sales were down 3.8 percent to $62 million. The only category to seeany type of gains was Freeride boards (up 3.9 percent in dollars).

Snowboard boot sales were down 1.6 percent ($38.3 million) and snowboard bindings were down 1.9 percent ($30 million). Non step-in boots are the choice for almostall riders. This category rose 9.4 percent in dollars. This category makes up80 percent of all snowboard boots sold.

APPAREL INVENTORY IS LIGHT – SOFT SHELLS POPULAR

“Apparel sales are robust,” continued Lynch. “This is a clear indicator thatmanufacturers are responding to consumer demands for comfort, performance andmore styles for all kinds of winter sport enthusiasts.”

Apparel tops were tracking 13.4 percent ahead of last season in dollars to $176.1million. Top sale increases were almost all in the double digits or better. Softshell parkas gained 101.4 percent in dollars followed by vests (no fleece) (up39 percent), insulated parkas (up 32.3 percent), sweaters (up 32.2 percent) andshell parkas (up 11.4 percent). The only category to miss was fleece (includingvest), up only 2.2 percent. Alpine tops were almost 50 percent sold through.Suits are up 16.5 percent in dollars to $11.9 million. Juniors and insulatedsuits are leading the parade.

Bottoms were also up 12.9 percent in dollars to $57.8 million. Soft shell pantsare up 55 percent in units, however; there is not enough inventory to sustainthe increase. Shell and insulated waist bottoms plus juniors accelerated thecategory.

Snowboard apparel was down just slightly 1.4 percent to $56.4 million. Accordingto Spring, “New merchandise gained 10 percent in dollars in both tops and bottoms.The problem stems from lack of carry-over. In 2001, carry over sales were significant.”The hot areas in snowboard apparel were junior tops (up 40.7 percent in dollars)and women’s bottoms (up 28.2 percent in dollars). The junior bottoms weren’tfar behind with an increase in dollars of 25.6 percent.

ACCESSORIES HELP PULL SPECIALTY STORES AHEAD – HELMETS AND GOGGLES LEAD THE WAYIN INCREASES

Snow breathed life into almost all accessories categories. Equipment accessorieswere up 12.3 percent to $157.5 million. Leading the way in dollar gains are gogglesand helmets, up 34.4 percent and 30.9 percent respectively. Also doing well areauto racks.

Apparel accessories were even farther ahead, up 24 percent to $159.3 million.All categories made substantial gains, however; base layers (up 31.1 percentin dollars), turtlenecks (up 46.4 percent in dollars) and headwear (up 39.2 percentin dollars) saw the largest gains.