Spec. Shop Sales Down 5.3%, Chains Up 16.3%

MCLEAN, Va. (April 17, 2003) — Overall sales for the entire winter sports market increased by 4.6 percent in dollars to $2.03 billion compared to $1.94 billion in 2002 for the period of August through February, according to the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit. “This season is comparable to the 2000/01 season where sales were $2.06 billion through February,” said Julie Lynch, Director of Market Research for SIA, the not-for-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This is the fifth of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, 2003, through the end of the winter season.

Sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops for August through the end of February were up 7.8 percent compared to last season. In dollars, that translates to $1.59 billion in sales compared to $1.48 billion in 2002 and $1.56 billion in 2001. Unit sales were up significantly from last season tracking 16.3 percent ahead. For the month of February, specialty store sales increased 7 percent to $272.4 million from $254.5 million in 2002.

As a result of increased sales in specialty stores, inventories are starting to be depleted. Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group stated, “As we head into March, inventories are already down over 33 percent from the end of February 2002.”

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) in specialty stores was flat (-.04%), tracking at $621.3 million compared to $623.6 in 2002. Alpine equipment (including skis, boots, bindings and poles) increased 1.1 percent to $421.7 million as compared to $417.2 last year. Units for alpine equipment tracked ahead 4.1 percent. Snowboard equipment (including boards, boots and bindings) was down, 5.3 percent to $171 million.

Sales for snowboard equipment in 2001 tracked at $180.5 million. Nordic equipment (including skis, boots, bindings and poles) tracked at $28.6 million.

Apparel and accessories lead the way with the largest gains in specialty stores up 6.8 percent to $441.2 million and 20.2 percent to $528.6 million, respectively. Last season, sales for apparel were $413.1 million while accessories were $439.9 million.

Higher Priced Boots were Hot in February

Alpine ski sales were down 6.3 percent to $139.9 million, excluding ski/binding systems. Midfat skis, representing almost 50 percent of alpine skis sold, tracked even in dollars compared to last season. The second largest class, junior skis, is up 33 percent in units. Even though fat and twin tip skis are selling under 20,000 units, both have done very well this season. Unit sales have increased 156 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Ski/binding system sales are ahead 48 percent in dollars and 72.3 percent in units. The surge in unit sales can be explained by the decrease in the average retail price for ski/binding systems which is $618 this season compared to $718 in 2002.

Through February 2003, alpine boot sales were up 2.2 percent in dollars to $161.9 million compared to last season. Expensive boots on sale surged in February. Overall, the average retail price was $283 compared to the average of last season at $258. The gains are in high performance, the largest category, (up 17 percent in dollars), recreation (up 23 percent in dollars), soft boots (up 126 percent in dollars) and juniors (up 32 percent in dollars).

Binding sales are down 12 percent in dollars to $55.7 million excluding ski/binding systems. However, when you add system sales to bindings sold independently, sales are on par with last year through the same period. Poles vaulted ahead 13.4 percent in sales to $13.9 million.

Boards, boots, and bindings all tracked behind last season in dollars. Snowboard sales were down 7.1 percent to $79.4 million. Snowboard boot sales were down 2.7 percent ($51.7 million) and snowboard bindings were down 4.9 percent ($.9 million). End of the season sales did not help push snowboard equipment sales ahead. The only good news in snowboard equipment is the increases in non step-in bindings (up 2.3 percent in dollars) and boots (up 9.3 percent in dollars).

Junior Apparel Stays Strong

Apparel tops were tracking 10.4 percent ahead of last season in dollars to $245.4 million. Insulated parkas (men’s, women’s and juniors) posted a 28.2 percent increase in dollars while soft shell parkas gained 88.3 percent in dollars. Sweaters also stayed hot through February tracking 33.4 percent ahead of 2002 sales. Junior apparel is staying strong through the end of the season with insulated parkas and shell parkas both making significant gains, up 29.5 percent and 200 percent in dollars, respectively.

Bottoms were also up 7.0 percent in dollars to $98.1 million. Softshell pants are selling for an average of $156 and are ahead 57.7 percent in units. This season softshell tops are outselling bottoms by a factor of seven to one. Insulated pants (up 49.6 percent in dollars) and juniors (up 23.8 percent in dollars) have made double digit gains this season.

Snowboard apparel was slightly down 3.6 percent to $79 million. According to Spring, “The past continues to haunt snowboard apparel when comparing overall sales from this season to 2002. The category is off in units and dollars because carry-over has all but disappeared.” To sum up the snowboard apparel category, more snowboard bottoms are being sold this season than tops. Men are buying three times more bottoms then women and twice as many tops. Junior tops and bottoms are both increasing in the double digits.

Accessories Sales are Back to Normal After a Soft 2002

After a rough season last year, equipment accessories were up 14.8 percent to $256.7 million. The hot equipment accessories this season were sunglasses (up 43.6 percent in dollars), helmets (up 29.1 percent in dollars) and auto racks (up 9.4 percent). Snowshoes, after a long run of gains, have slipped 3.7 percent in units.

Apparel accessories were even farther ahead, up 25.8 percent to $271.9 million. All categories made substantial gains; however, base layers (up 29.3 percent in dollars), turtlenecks (up 36.4 percent in dollars) and headwear (up 39.8 percent in dollars) saw the largest gains.

Accessories categories are seeing substantial gains this season due to a soft market during the 2001/2002 season where there was lots of unsold inventory at the end of the season. This season the accessories sales and inventory levels are back to normal levels.

Equipment Sales Bright Spot In Chains

Chain store sales were down 5.5 percent for August through February compared to the same period in 2002. In dollars, that translates to $439.4 million in sales so far this year compared to $465.2 million in 2002. The unit sales tracked 11.3 percent behind last year. Sales for the month of February in chain stores were down considerably from 2002, $67 million compared to $75 million, a difference of $8 million. According to Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, “Chain stores dominate sales in the West and the West has had a tough time this year.” However, chain stores were helped by higher retail selling prices. The average retail shot up 6.5 percent from $36.28 in 2002 to $38.65 this season.

The SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. SIA is the not-for-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products. This is the fifth of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, 2003, the end of the winter season.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) for chain stores was up 10.9 percent to $134 million from $120.8 million in 2002. Alpine equipment (skis, boots, bindings and poles) was up 11.7 percent to $64.4 million as compared to $57.7 last year. Snowboard equipment (boards, boots and bindings) was a bright spot at chain stores; it was up 16.3 percent to $63.1 million in sales. Sales for snowboard equipment in 2002 tracked at $54.2 million. Nordic equipment (skis, boots, bindings and poles)was down 26.7 percent to $6.6 million.

Both apparel and accessories were down in chain stores. Apparel was down 10.4 percent to $172.4 million as compared to $192.4 million last season while accessories declined 12.5 percent to $132.9 million as compared to 2002, which was $151.9 million.

Snowboard Equipment Sales Stay Strong

Boots, poles and ski binding systems did the heavy lifting in the alpine ski equipment category. Alpine ski sales declined 5.3 percent in dollars to $22.4 million while units dropped 25.2 percent, excluding ski/binding systems. Carve ski sales dropped 75.2 percent. However, other specific categories are doing well. Midfat skis (up 30.7 percent), twin tip skis (up 234.6 percent), ski boards (up 55.3 percent) and junior skis (up 62.8 percent) all saw double digit gains in dollars. Ski binding systems, at an average retail of $439, grew over 400 percent in unit sales. Even with most categories posting large increases, overall alpine ski equipment took a hit due to a lack of carry-over (down 34.9 percent in dollars).

The alpine equipment sales were driven by boots, which increased 21.4 percent in dollars to $23.9 million. Alpine boots had an average retail of $159 compared to specialty stores where they were selling an average of $258. All alpine boot categories saw increases in dollars over last season. High performance (up 46.9 percent), sport performance (up 32.1 percent), recreation (up 100 percent), soft boots (up 235.6 percent) and juniors (up 94 percent) all grew. The increase in dollars could be attributed to the lack of carry-over sales this season (down 44.9 percent in dollars).

Bindings are tracking similar to skis. Units are down 19.4 percent while dollars were down 12.4 percent. Junior bindings are a hot product increasing 60.3 percent in dollars. Poles are up (30.8 percent) to $4 million.

Snowboard equipment is still tracking ahead in chain stores. Snowboard sales in dollars were ahead 10.5 percent to $26.5 million; however, units were only tracking 2.0 percent ahead of last season. The two largest categories in terms of unit sales both saw significant gains in dollar sales this year. Freeride and all mountain snowboards gained 42.9 percent and 288.2 percent in dollars, respectively. Snowboard boots and bindings followed suit. Boots advanced 18.0 percent in dollars to $20.4 million while bindings tracked ahead 24.7 percent in dollars to $16.4 million. Non step-in boots and bindings saw all the action, gaining 55.4 percent and 73.8 percent in dollars, respectively. As a result of increased sales, there is a lack of carry-over sales in boards, boots, and bindings.

Junior Apparel is Hot in Chains

Apparel tops declined 9.8 percent in dollars to $100.6 million; however, units gained 2.0 percent. The only category to be doing really well in apparel is juniors. Both junior insulated parkas and shell parkas gained in dollars, increasing 20.0 percent and 52.7 percent, respectively. “Overall consumers were looking for bargains this season in apparel, with the exception of new products ,” said Julie Lynch, Director of Market Research for SIA. Soft shell parkas advanced 49.6 percent in dollars with an average retail price of $185. Carry-over apparel tops are selling really well in chain stores, up 72.2 percent in dollars to $15.1 million.

Like tops, bottoms declined 7.1 percent in dollars to $37.9 million. Carry-over accounted for over 50 percent of all alpine bottom sales which was the only category to see increases in dollars besides soft shell waist pants. Soft shell waist pants grew 38.7 percent in dollars.

The opposite was true in the snowboard apparel, lack of carry-over hurt this category. Snowboard apparel was down 13.6 percent in dollars to $31.8 million. Snowboard tops weht spot at chain stores; it was up 16.3 percent to $63.1 million in sales. Sales for snowboard equipment in 2002 tracked at $54.2 million. Nordic equipment (skis, boots, bindings and poles)was down 26.7 percent to $6.6 million.

Both apparel and accessories were down in chain stores. Apparel was down 10.4 percent to $172.4 million as compared to $192.4 million last season while accessories declined 12.5 percent to $132.9 million as compared to 2002, which was $151.9 million.

Snowboard Equipment Sales Stay Strong

Boots, poles and ski binding systems did the heavy lifting in the alpine ski equipment category. Alpine ski sales declined 5.3 percent in dollars to $22.4 million while units dropped 25.2 percent, excluding ski/binding systems. Carve ski sales dropped 75.2 percent. However, other specific categories are doing well. Midfat skis (up 30.7 percent), twin tip skis (up 234.6 percent), ski boards (up 55.3 percent) and junior skis (up 62.8 percent) all saw double digit gains in dollars. Ski binding systems, at an average retail of $439, grew over 400 percent in unit sales. Even with most categories posting large increases, overall alpine ski equipment took a hit due to a lack of carry-over (down 34.9 percent in dollars).

The alpine equipment sales were driven by boots, which increased 21.4 percent in dollars to $23.9 million. Alpine boots had an average retail of $159 compared to specialty stores where they were selling an average of $258. All alpine boot categories saw increases in dollars over last season. High performance (up 46.9 percent), sport performance (up 32.1 percent), recreation (up 100 percent), soft boots (up 235.6 percent) and juniors (up 94 percent) all grew. The increase in dollars could be attributed to the lack of carry-over sales this season (down 44.9 percent in dollars).

Bindings are tracking similar to skis. Units are down 19.4 percent while dollars were down 12.4 percent. Junior bindings are a hot product increasing 60.3 percent in dollars. Poles are up (30.8 percent) to $4 million.

Snowboard equipment is still tracking ahead in chain stores. Snowboard sales in dollars were ahead 10.5 percent to $26.5 million; however, units were only tracking 2.0 percent ahead of last season. The two largest categories in terms of unit sales both saw significant gains in dollar sales this year. Freeride and all mountain snowboards gained 42.9 percent and 288.2 percent in dollars, respectively. Snowboard boots and bindings followed suit. Boots advanced 18.0 percent in dollars to $20.4 million while bindings tracked ahead 24.7 percent in dollars to $16.4 million. Non step-in boots and bindings saw all the action, gaining 55.4 percent and 73.8 percent in dollars, respectively. As a result of increased sales, there is a lack of carry-over sales in boards, boots, and bindings.

Junior Apparel is Hot in Chains

Apparel tops declined 9.8 percent in dollars to $100.6 million; however, units gained 2.0 percent. The only category to be doing really well in apparel is juniors. Both junior insulated parkas and shell parkas gained in dollars, increasing 20.0 percent and 52.7 percent, respectively. “Overall consumers were looking for bargains this season in apparel, with the exception of new products ,” said Julie Lynch, Director of Market Research for SIA. Soft shell parkas advanced 49.6 percent in dollars with an average retail price of $185. Carry-over apparel tops are selling really well in chain stores, up 72.2 percent in dollars to $15.1 million.

Like tops, bottoms declined 7.1 percent in dollars to $37.9 million. Carry-over accounted for over 50 percent of all alpine bottom sales which was the only category to see increases in dollars besides soft shell waist pants. Soft shell waist pants grew 38.7 percent in dollars.

The opposite was true in the snowboard apparel, lack of carry-over hurt this category. Snowboard apparel was down 13.6 percent in dollars to $31.8 million. Snowboard tops were slightly up (1.2 percent in dollars) while snowboard bottoms were down (5.5 percent in dollars).The only category to see any real action is women’s snowboard bottoms, gaining 22.4 percent in dollars.

Accessories Business is Slow

The accessories business was slow in chain stores this season. Equipment accessories were down 9.5 percent to $52.9 million. The hottest seller in chain stores this season has been the snowdecks/skate, gaining 71.9 percent in dollars and 143.4 percent in units. The only other category to see any growth was sunglasses, up 27.9 percent in dollars. Apparel accessories had a tough time of it also. This category was down even more at 14.4 percent to $80 million. No apparel accessory classes advanced. This performance follows a poor 2002 season when all accessories were down 9 percent in dollars at the end of February.

***SIA***

SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is the national, not-for-profit, member-owned trade association that represents snow and winter sports outdoor companies. SIA produces the SIA SnowSports Show, the largest trade show and gathering place for the snow sports industry. Proceeds from the SnowSports Show fund market development programs for all snow sport disciplines. SIA also annually produces more than a dozen industry research studies. For more information, check out www.snowlink.com. SnowSports Industries America, 8377-B Greensboro Drive, McLean, VA 22102-3587. Phone: (703) 556-9020, Fax: (703) 821-8276, Email: siamail@snowsports.org.s were slightly up (1.2 percent in dollars) while snowboard bottoms were down (5.5 percent in dollars).The only category to see any real action is women’s snowboard bottoms, gaining 22.4 percent in dollars.

Accessories Business is Slow

The accessories business was slow in chain stores this season. Equipment accessories were down 9.5 percent to $52.9 million. The hottest seller in chain stores this season has been the snowdecks/skate, gaining 71.9 percent in dollars and 143.4 percent in units. The only other category to see any growth was sunglasses, up 27.9 percent in dollars. Apparel accessories had a tough time of it also. This category was down even more at 14.4 percent to $80 million. No apparel accessory classes advanced. This performance follows a poor 2002 season when all accessories were down 9 percent in dollars at the end of February.

***SIA***

SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is the national, not-for-profit, member-owned trade association that represents snow and winter sports outdoor companies. SIA produces the SIA SnowSports Show, the largest trade show and gathering place for the snow sports industry. Proceeds from the SnowSports Show fund market development programs for all snow sport disciplines. SIA also annually produces more than a dozen industry research studies. For more information, check out www.snowlink.com. SnowSports Industries America, 8377-B Greensboro Drive, McLean, VA 22102-3587. Phone: (703) 556-9020, Fax: (703) 821-8276, Email: siamail@snowsports.org.