Despite poor snow conditions for the past two years east of the Mississippi, snowboard equipment sales were actually up five percent compared to the previous winter, according to the 1999 SnowSports Industries America Sales Survey.

Despite the good snowboarding news, drops of 9.7 percent in Alpine equipment and 8.8 percent in Nordic gear produced a total equipment loss of 4.6 percent to 486-million dollars.

Total sales of all product categories products by manufacturers to retailers were down 6.4 percent from the winter of ’97/98, to 931-million dollars.

Snowboard apparel saw a 27-percent increase to 52-million dollars, mainly due to robust gains in women’s jackets and pants. But Alpine apparel sustained a 20 percent fall to 231-million dollars, fueled by the mild weather.

More than 150 SIA member companies responded to the 1999 SIA Wholesale Sales Survey. Sports Research Inc., the sports-market research firm that has been conducting the SIA Wholesale Sales Survey for the past fifteen years, projected some of the data in certain product categories. The projections were made by applying a percentage increase or decrease of sales based on a comparison of sales of those companies that reported for both this year and last year.

“This is the fairest and most accurate way to represent the size of each category’s sales,” says John Packer, SIA’s associate director of research. “This methodology change allowed the report to be generated in a more timely manner. However, the SIA Wholesale Sales survey will not abandon its future efforts to use a census-survey approach to wholesale snow sports-sales reporting.”

Another research initiative SIA has launched is a snowboarder- and skier-retention survey. Some of this survey’s preliminary findings are as follows: participation is steady, snowboarding is growing but might not be cannibalizing skiing, and advanced riders go more days and spend more money on the sport. But the study also shows that there is a lot about the market nobody knows, such as retention rates by age, whether snowboarding is an easier avenue to introduce new participants to snow sports, or what incentives might extend a winter vacation.

SNOWboarding Business will bring you the complete results when they are released.

Finally, the SIA has made a major change to the SIA Vegas trade show in response to a survey of SIA show attendees and the recognition by the committee that there is a trend in trade shows toward consolidation, which translates into money and time saved by exhibitors, buyers and reps.

Because of this, the duration of the show has been adjusted. Vegas 2000 will kick off Friday, March 3, 4:30 p.m., with a “grand opening

celebration.”

The Saturday through Monday show hours will be from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday’s hours will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to SIA, a major benefit of adjusting the hours is the opportunity for attendees to travel on the day Vegas 2000 starts, thus saving one night of lodging.