Nordic Equipment and Equipment Accessories Categories Experience Increase in Sales

MCLEAN, Va. (December 11, 2003) — Chain store sales were down 8.2 percent for the beginning of thewinter sports season (August through October ) compared to the same period in 2002 according to theSnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit. In dollars, that translates to $59.7 million in salescompared to $64.9 million in 2002. The unit sales tracked 8.3 percent behind last year. The SIA Retail Audittracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. SIA is the not-for-profit industry trade groupthat represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products. This is the first report of six thatlooks at sales through March 31, 2004, the end of the winter season.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard, Nordic and telemark) for chain stores was down 7.0 percent to $14.5million from $15.6 million in 2002; however, units gained 7.5 percent. Alpine equipment (including skis,boots, bindings and poles) was up just slightly (0.76 percent) to $7.9 million as compared to $7.8 million lastyear; however, units gained 18 percent.

Snowboard equipment (including boards, boots and bindings) wasdown 18.1 percent to $5.9 million in sales. Sales for snowboard equipment in 2002 tracked at $7.3 million. Nordic equipment (including skis, boots, bindings and poles), a bright spot, was up 21.2 percent to$450,358. Telemark equipment (including skis, boots and bindings), a new category in the Retail Audit,tracked at $188,981 (up 98.9 percent).

Both apparel and accessories were down in chain stores. Apparel was down 11.8 percent to$25.3 million as compared to $28.7 million last season while accessories declined 4.1 percent to$19.8 million as compared to 2002, which was $20.7 million.

Ski Binding System Sales Trend is Hitting Chains

Alpine ski sales (including ski binding systems) increased 9.1 percent in dollars to $4 million whileunits gained 28.1 percent. Increases were due to the sale of ski binding systems. Much lower average retailprices on ski binding systems jump started sales (up 286.1 percent in dollars). Last year average retail forsystems were $511 compared to $338 this season. According to Scott Jaeger of Leisure Trends Group,”Chains have picked up on the trend and are moving systems at exponential rates at cut-rate prices.”In addition, the largest unit sales category, Midfat skis, were down 3.1 percent to $1.5 million though unitsincreased 27.5 percent. The action was in junior skis which were up 30.9 percent to $229,768. Fat skisgained 71.5 percent in dollars to $164,520. Twin tips (down 4.4 percent), carve (down 57.1 percent) andskiboards (down 61.9 percent) all tracked behind.

Unit sales for alpine boots were at an exact 1 to 1 ratio to the number of alpine skis (including ski bindingsystems) sold. Alpine boot sales increased 5.0 percent to $2.7 million. High performance boots are hot thisyear, increasing 45.8 percent to $727,961, outselling both sport and recreation. Both sport (down 22.5percent to $539,697) and recreation (down 15.7 percent to $447,517) declined in preseason sales. Soft bootsales were anything but soft as dollars increased 74.3 percent to $211,489. However, the average retailprice was slashed from $220 last season to $106. Junior boot dollars increased 8.9 percent ($116,490) on adoubling of unit sales over last preseason. Stand alone alpine binding sales declined 8.4 percent to $929,066. Adding back in unit sales for bindings toski binding systems, sales were up 26.6 percent. The DIN 8-11 were down 10.2 percent while DIN 12-14made gains of 14.1 percent in dollars. Junior bindings were up 11.6 percent to $79,115. Alpine polesdeclined 51.3 percent to $303,457. Junior poles, at only $9 average retail, flew out the door at a rate 66percent faster than last year.

Snowboard Units Up but Dollars Decline

Snowboard sales are having a rough time in chain stores. The main reason is the average retail sellingg priceis $33 less than last season. Boards declined 14.4 percent in dollars to $3.0 million; however, unitsincreased 5.2 percent. The two largest categories in terms of unit sales both saw gains in preseason dollarsales. Freeride and freestyle boards gained 5.0 percent to $1.3 million and 9.4 percent in dollars to$581,864 million, respectively. In chain stores, junior snowboards are selling moreunits than women’s although both have seen double digit increases in unit sales. Junior boards are up 23.3percent and women’s, 49.8 percent.

Both snowboard boots and bindings declined in the double digits. Boots decreased 15.0 percent in dollars to$1.8 million while bindings tracked behind 30.2 percent in dollars to $1.2 million. Non step-in boots andbindings both declined in dollars, 4.6 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively.

Junior Snowboard Apparel is Hot in Chains

Alpine apparel got off to a slow start in chain stores. Alpine tops declined 11.7 percent in dollars to $18.4million and units were down 9.6 percent. The only categories to see any type of increase were softshellparkas (up 116.4 percent to $346,282) and sweaters (up 26.9 percent to $1.3 million). Insulated parkas andshell parkas both saw declines, 17.4 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively.

Alpine bottoms struggled even more, declining 24.4 percent in dollars to $3.0 million. The only bottom’scategories to see any up tick were bibs (up 78.8 percent to $253,267) and softshell waist pants (up 86.7percent to $32,806).

Snowboard apparel fared slightly better (up 0.06 percent in dollars to $3.6 million). Snowboard tops were up(6.5 percent in dollars to $2.2 million) while snowboard bottoms were down (5.1 percent in dollars to $1.1million). The junior snowboard apparel helped the category as a whole. Junior snowboard tops gained 48.4percent to $369,105 and bottoms were up 11.7 percent to $141,559. Women’s tops stayed strong (up 21.7percent to $767,301).

Snowdecks/Skates Were a Hot Seller in Chains

Equipment accessories were up 8.1 percent to $11.1 million. The hottest seller in chain stores thispreseason were sunglasses, gaining 36 percent in dollars to $5.2 million. All other categories, includingsnowdecks/skates (down 44.3 percent to $29,590), goggles (down 0.3 percent to $508,337), auto racks(down 23.5 percent to $1.4 million), snowshoes (down 18.1 percent to $209,292) and helmets (down 31.2percent to $792,670) saw declines.

Apparel accessories had even a rougher time of it. This category was down even more at 15.9 percent to$8.8 million. Winter boots did fairly well, gaining 36.6 percent to $607,691. All other categories did notadvance including gloves (down 22.2 percent to $1.2 million), mitts (down 18.1 percent to $281,899), socks(down 51.2 percent to $647,068), base layer (down 13.9 percent to $2.7 million), turtlenecks (down 7.7percent to $204,392) and headwear (down 3.6 percent to $1.2 million).