MCLEAN, Va. (December 13, 2002) — Cool weather is clearly more importantto ski and snowboard sales than a weakened economy, a possible war or unemployment.October printed black ink where there had been red on the profit and lossstatements of most retailers following dismal sales results in September.Sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops were up 1.4 percent in dollarsfor the first part of the season compared to the August-October periodof 2001. In dollars, that translates to $240 million in sales so far thisyear compared to $237 million in 2001 and $227 million in 2000. Thoughsales were up for the beginning of the season, units tracked 0.4 percentbelow last year.
“The first quarter numbers indicate that the whole family is heading tothe slopes. Sales for junior products has significantly increased comparedto last year, said Julie Lynch, Director of Market Research for SnowSportsIndustries America (SIA), the not-for-profit industry trade group thatrepresents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products.
All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) in specialty stores was flat,tracking 1.4 percent below to $110.8 million from $112.4 in 2001. Alpinegear declined slightly by 4.0 percent or $75.9 million as compared to $79.1last year. The bright spot so far this season is snowboard equipment up6.3 percent or $32.9 million in sales. Sales for snowboard equipment in2001 tracked at $30.9 million.
Apparel and Accessories both saw sales gains during the August to Octoberperiod, 6.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Sales for apparel trackedat $70.9 million while accessories were $58.2 million. Last season salesfor apparel were $66.6 million while accessories were $57.5 million.
Surge in Pre-season Snowboard Sales
Alpine ski sales were down 11.3 percent to $29.9 million, excluding systems.The dollar decline seems to come from mid-fat skis (up 16.2% in units)at an average selling price of nearly $50 less than last fall. Accordingto Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, the research firm that preparesthe Retail Audit for SIA, twice as many ski systems sold in this periodas last year. If you add ski systems to the total alpine ski sales, unitsales were up 6.7 percent. Mid-fat skis are now the leader in unit sales.In addition, junior skis are off and running at this point in the seasonselling more units than carve skis. In carryover, the pickings are slim.
Even though alpine boot sales are down just 3.2 percent in dollars to $25.9million compared to last season, boots outsold skis by almost 5 percent.So far this season, high performance boots are outselling sport performance.
However, the big news in boot sales is recreation at $184 average sellingprice. They are up 23 percent in units. Soft boots are making a run forit with 33,000 pairs in inventory; retailers will be out of stock by theholidays at this current rate of sale. Bindings continue to move slowly,down 16.2 percent in dollars to $10.9 million. They do slightly betterif you add back in the system sales. The Din 8-11 outsold all other bindingclasses. Junior bindings are up 8.9 percent in sales. Poles came back downin price so unit sales are up 4 percent.
Early-season snowboard sales were up 10.3 percent in dollars to $17.5 millionwhile units tracked at 24.7 percent ahead of last season. Freeride is theboard of choice, outselling all other categories in units; however, thetrend is freeride/freestyle which increased 45.8 percent in units. Snowboardboot sales were up 0.4 percent ($8.5 million) and snowboard bindings wereup 4.4 percent ($6.8 million).
Apparel is Hot in Pre-season
Overall apparel rose 6.4 percent in dollars to $70.9 million up from $66.6million last season. Apparel tops were tracking 9.0 percent ahead of lastseason in dollars to $45.4 million. Fleece (including vests) is the unitsales leader with over 100,000 sold in this pre-holiday period. It lookslike there won’t be enough inventory tomake it through December. In addition, insulated parkas have stayed hot(no pun intended) so far this season growing 21.2 percent in dollars. Softshells are selling briskly; men are buying three for every one purchasedby a woman. Vests (no fleece) are hot this season, up 80 percent in units.With the colder weather, the sweater is making a comeback as dollars areup 22.5 percent. One thing is clear in alpine tops, inventory is lean.
Bottoms are up 6.5 percent in dollars to $10.2 million. Junior bottomsare outselling all adult categories in units. Shell waist and insulatedwaist are both selling briskly, up 8.0 percent and 29.8 percent, respectively.
According to Spring, last year during the August through October period,snowboard apparel sales spiraled ahead 30 percent in units and 25 percentin dollars. This year action has slowed. Units squeaked upwards 4.2 percentand dollars 2.9 percent to $12.7 million. The problem is a result of cleaningout carryover. New snowboard tops are up 15 percent in both units and dollarsand snowboard bottoms are up 16.7 percent in units and 12.1 percent indollars. Junior snowboard apparel is hot.
Accessories Experience Slight Growth
Equipment accessories were up slightly by 1.2 percent in dollars trackingat $34 million in dollars. Leading the increase were goggles, auto racksand helmets.
Apparel accessories were also slightly ahead 2.7 percent to $24.2 millionin dollars. The bright spots were sales of base layers, turtlenecks andheadwear. “Opening inventories this year look about right if the snowkeeps falling and the cold weather lasts. Some of the apparel categorieswill be under bought. Re-orders should be plentiful, said Jim Spring ofLeisure Trends Group. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales inall snow sports product categories. This is the first of six reports thatwill look at sales through March 31, 2002, the end of the winter season.
Sales at Chain Stores were posted at $66 million for the first part ofthe season. Unfortunately, comparisons cannot be drawn for chain storesbecause last year’s data was delayed in publication. Note: this will becorrected for the August through November 2002 time period. Therefore,all information included in this release is for Specialty ski and snowboardshops only.