McLEAN, VA (January 18, 2001) ¿ Sales for winter sports products in chain stores were down by 8.4 percent in dollars for August through November when compared to the same period in 2000. In dollars, that translates to $130.5 million in sales so far this year compared to $142 million in 2000. The unit sales were even further behind last year, down 14.1 percent.

The overall picture is much brighter. When specialty and chain store numbers are combined through the end of November, sales were down only 1.4 percent in dollars compared to 2000. The sales for all stores were $632 million compared to $642 million. Equipment sales were up slightly by 1.7 percent to $276 million. Both snowboard (up 14.8 percent in dollars) and Nordic equipment (up 24.5 percent) kept this category in the positive. Alpine equipment took a hit, down 4.8 percent in dollars. Apparel and accessories were down in sales, 2.9 percent and 4.6 percent respectively. In dollars this translates to $190 million in apparel sales and $167 million for accessories.

The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This is the second of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, 2002, the end of the winter season. Leisure Trends Group prepares the annual Retail Audit for SnowSports Industries America. SIA is the not-for-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products.

Snowboard and Nordic Gear Up

Sales of all equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) in chain stores were down 8.6 percent to $37.6 million from $41.1 million in 2000. Alpine gear was down by 18 percent to $18.7 million as compared to $22.7 last year. Nordic equipment was a bright spot, rising 15.1 percent to $2 million. Snowboard equipment was up 1.6 percent, totalling $16.9 million in sales. Sales for Nordic equipment from August to November 2000 were $1.8 million while snowboard was $16.6 million.

Both apparel and accessories saw losses at chain stores during the August through November time period, 5.6 percent and 11.4 percent respectively. Sales for apparel were $51 million while accessories were $41.9 million. Last season sales for apparel were $54 million while accessories were $47.3 million.

Midfat, Fat and Nordic Skis See Increases; Snowboards Units Rise

Alpine ski sales fell 16.3 percent to $8.3 million. Midfat and fat skis registered strong gains, up 11.9 percent and 16.6 percent respectively. Interestingly, carry-over (old inventory plus close-outs) was up 80 percent. Carry-over skis were selling for an average of $130. In addition, there were 375 ski systems sold in chain stores for an average of $661.

Both alpine boot and binding sales slipped. Boots dropped 24.9 percent to $6.1 million while bindings fell 14.6 percent to $3.2 million. Poles are just down slightly (4.3 percent) to $713,701.

One of the bright spots in hard goods is the increase in the sales of Nordic ski equipment. Even without snow, Nordic sales climbed after two poor seasons. Nordic skis were up 22.3 percent to $822,928 followed by bindings (up 23.8 percent to $289,081), boots (up 13.4 percent to $753,743). The only weak sales in Nordic were seen in poles, down 15.0 percent to $159,883.

Though snowboard sales were down 2.8 percent in dollars to $7.9 million in chain stores, units were 12.5 percent ahead. According to Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, over 50,000 snowboards were sold through the end of November. This represents 28 percent of all boards sold this season so far (specialty plus chain store). The average retail price of a snowboard in chain stores is $151 compared to $269 in specialty stores. Snowboard boot sales were up, 11.5 percent to $5.5 million, however, snowboard bindings were down 2.2 percent to $3.6 million. Also, in chain stores there were slightly more than 2,000 snow decks/skates sold so far this season, selling for an average of $58. Snowboard Apparel Loses Steam

Even tthough apparel tops were down 4.9 percent in dollars there are some categories to watch. Women’s and junior’s shell parkas were strong in chain stores, up 65.7 percent in dollars and 70.5 percent in dollars respectively. Vests are still hot, up 36.5 percent in dollars while fleece tops (up 22.7 percent in dollars) and sweaters (up 36.8 percent in dollars) posted strong numbers.

Bottoms did well in chain stores, up 11.1 percent to $8.6 million. Insulated waist (up 24.2 percent in dollars), stretch waist (up 23.2 percent), and fleece waist (up 52.1 percent) all registered gains. Snowboard apparel slowed down with a drop of 20.5 percent to $6.3 million. According to Spring, the price is right for snowboard apparel to sell (at an average of $80) however, the lack of closeouts seems to be hurting this category.

Accessories Business Slows

The accessories business slowed in November for chain stores. Equipment accessories were down 8.7 percent to $18.9 million. Auto racks are leading the increase, up 31.1 percent to $3.6 million.

Apparel accessories had a tough time at the chain stores. This category was down by 13.5 percent to $23 million. The only category that saw any type of dollar gain was winter boots, up 26.6 percent to $1.5 million.