MCLEAN, Va. (December 11, 2003) — Overall sales for the entire winter sports market (including specialtyand chain stores), increased by 3.9 percent in dollars to $314.5 million compared to $302.7 million in 2002for preseason (August through October) according to the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit.Unit sales were ahead 6.2 percent. Sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops were up 7.2 percentcompared to last season. In dollars, that translates to $254.8 million in sales compared to $237.7 million in2002 and $234.1 million in 2001.

Unit sales were up significantly from last season tracking 14.0 percentahead. “Winter sports sales are shaping up well in the specialty ski and snowboard shops for the beginningof the season. With snow falling across the country, sales could hit an all-time high this season,” said JulieLynch, director of market research for SIA, the not-for-profit industry trade group that representsmanufacturers and distributors of snow sports products. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in allsnow sports product categories. This is the first report of six that looks at sales through March 31, 2004, theend of the winter season.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard, Nordic and telemark) in specialty stores was up 2.5 percent, tracking at$113.6 million compared to $110.8 in 2002. Alpine equipment (including skis, boots, bindings and poles)decreased 7.9 percent to $69.9 million as compared to $75.9 million last year. Snowboard equipment(including boards, boots and bindings) was up 22 percent to $40.1 million. Sales for snowboard equipmentin 2002 tracked at $32.9 million. Nordic equipment (including skis, boots, bindings and poles) salespropelled forward, tracking at $2.8 million, an increase of 63.5 percent. Telemark equipment (including skis,boots, and bindings), a new category in the retail audit, tracked at $864,551.

Apparel and accessories both saw gains in specialty stores up 9.7 percent to $77.5 million and 13.2 percent to $63.7 million, respectively. Last season, sales for apparel were $70.6 million while accessories were $56.3 million. According to Scott Jaeger of Leisure Trends Group, who produces the SIA Retail Audit, “The growth in women’s alpine and snowboard apparel and equipment is outpacing the equivalent men’s categories. Women are going into the stores and finding new things to buy.”

Ski System Innovation Pays Off

Alpine ski sales (including systems) were down 5.8 percent in dollars to $35.2 million. However, ski bindingsystems had strong sales so far this season, gaining 45.9 percent to $11.5 million. There were nearly twiceas many ski systems sold during preseason compared to last year. In addition, the two biggest alpinecategories, Midfat and junior skis which represent 65 percent of alpine skis sold, both tracked behind with 27percent and 0.33 percent, respectively. Midfat skis sold $12.1 million whereas junior skis were at $2.6million. Even though junior ski sales were flat, units were up 19 percent. Fat skis saw the largest gain indollars, increasing 33.3 percent to $1.4 million while skiboards were up 8.6 percent to $631,870.

Slim is not in. Just 9,400 carve skis were sold during preseason, 50 percent fewer units as compared to lastseason. In addition, twin tip skis tumbled 22.4 percent in dollars to $1.3 million. Consumers may be shyingaway from the $375 average retail price, which is a $90 increase from last season.

Alpine boots were the unit sales leader in the alpine equipment category. However, alpine boot sales weredown 4.5 percent in dollars to $24.7 million compared to last season. The categories with the most action,soft boots (up 3.8 percent to $1.5 million) and juniors (up 22.4 percent to $2.3 million), both posted gains.High performance (down 4.1 percent to $10 million), sport performance (down 13.4 percent to $6.4 million)and recreation boots (down 24.2 percent to $2.7 million) all saw declines.

Alpine binding sales were down 21.0 percenin dollars to $8.6 million; however, binding sales (counting skisystem sales) increased 7.2 percent in dollars. Junior bindings were up 19.1 percent in dollars to $1.6million. Both DIN 8-11 (down 31.1 percent to $3.7 million) and DIN 12-14 (down 20 percent to $2.8 million)saw significant declines. In addition, alpine poles declined 22.8 percent in dollars to $1.3 million.

Snowboard Equipment is Hot and Back on Top

Snowboard equipment sales were hot in specialty stores this preseason. Boards increased 20.5 percent indollars to $21.1 million and 19.2 percent in units. The two hottest categories, those products seeingincreases in dollar sales, were freestyle and all-mountain boards. Both experienced significant gains.Freestyle boards were up 40 percent to $8.5 million and all mountain boards gained 31.3 percent to $1.5million, while the biggest seller, freeride boards, declined slightly by 1.8 percent or $7.2 million.

Men’s snowboards still make up the majority of all units sold (79%). Although sales of women’s and junior’sboards are starting to see gains, the categories are still fairly small.

Women’s snowboard units gained 38.3percent over last season while juniors were up 19.8 percent.Snowboard boots just edged out boards as the category leader in unit sales for snowboard equipment.

Snowboard boots gained 23.4 percent in dollars to $10.5 million. Non step-in boots were up 21.5 percent to$8.8 million. Snowboard bindings were also up 24.2 percent in dollars to $8.4 million, with an increase of26.3 percent in dollars to $7.3 million for non step-in bindings. Step-in boots and bindings have becomealmost non-existent in the snowboard world. Inventories are at half of what they were last year with salesmaking up only five percent of each category.

Free the Heel

Free the heel and the profits will follow. Nordic equipment sales in specialty were hot in preseason. Everycategory made significant gains with increases in skis (up 67.8 percent to $1.1 million), boots (up 49.1percent to $871,471), bindings (up 106.4 percent to $488,662) and poles (up 42.8 percent to $316,105). Inaddition, telemark ski equipment, a new category to the Retail Audit, saw sales of $864,551 for the Augustthrough October period which was a gain of 128.4 percent over last season.

Women’s Apparel is a Vast New Market

Apparel tops tracked 8.3 percent ahead of last season in dollars to $49.1 million. The clear winners, whichbested last year’s strong dollar sales, were insulated parkas (up 20.8 percent to $16.3 million), softshellparkas (up 59.3 percent to $2.2 million) and fleece (including vests – up 9 percent to $11.2 million). Onething was clear in the preseason, women’s products drove sales and retailers have prepared by increasingtheir inventories. Women’s insulated parkas did well increasing 42.6 percent to $6.7 million which was 26percent more in dollar sales than men’s. The junior insulated parka was a hot product so far this season,increasing 4.1 percent to $4.3 million. Shell parkas (down 10 percent to $11.2 million), vests (down 6.2percent to $822,002) and sweaters (down 0.23 percent to $3 million) all declined.

Bottoms were up, gaining 6 percent in dollars to $10.8 million with units tracking 13.2 percent ahead of lastseason. Softshell (up 52.8 percent to $258,205), insulated waist pants (up 1.2 percent to $2 million) andstretch waist pants (up 7.6 percent to $825,535) all saw increases. Junior bottoms, which make up slightlymore than a quarter of the alpine bottoms category in units, gained 11.9 percent in dollars to $2.2 million.

Snowboard apparel kept pace with equipment sales, gaining 24 percent in dollars to $15.4 million.Snowboard tops gained 23.3 percent in dollars to $8.8 million while snowboard bottoms leaped ahead 5.5percent to $4.4 million. However, the big news in this category is juniors. Junior tops jumped ahead 47percent to $1.2 million while bottoms gained 41 percent to $685,526. Junior snowboard apparel is close toselling as many units as women’s.

Consumers are Gearing up for Winter with Apparel Accessories

So far this season, equipment accessories are tracking ahead 1.6 percent to $33.9 million. Winter sportsparticipants are gearing up for the season with goggles (up 14.8 percent to $2.4 million), sunglasses (up15.7 percent to $8.2 million) and auto racks (up 1.8 percent to $9.9 million). Snowshoes (down 56.7 percent to $404,790), helmets (down 16.7 percent to $4.3 million) and snowdecks/skates (down 29.3 percent to $133,825) did not sell well in preseason.

Consumers weren’t just buying apparel; they picked up the accessories to go with those new tops and bottoms. Apparel accessories are up a whopping 30.2 percent in dollars to $29.8 million. Every category saw double digit increases except turtlenecks which were down 4.7 percent to $1.6 million. Winter boots (up 126.2 percent in dollars to $1.4 million), gloves (up 34.2 percent to $3.7 million), mitts (up 37.7 percent to $1.3 million), socks (up 46.1 percent to $2.2 million), base layer (up 22.9 percent to $7.1 million) and headwear (up 25.6 percent to $5.2 million) all jumped ahead. toselling as many units as women’s.

Consumers are Gearing up for Winter with Apparel Accessories

So far this season, equipment accessories are tracking ahead 1.6 percent to $33.9 million. Winter sportsparticipants are gearing up for the season with goggles (up 14.8 percent to $2.4 million), sunglasses (up15.7 percent to $8.2 million) and auto racks (up 1.8 percent to $9.9 million). Snowshoes (down 56.7 percent to $404,790), helmets (down 16.7 percent to $4.3 million) and snowdecks/skates (down 29.3 percent to $133,825) did not sell well in preseason.

Consumers weren’t just buying apparel; they picked up the accessories to go with those new tops and bottoms. Apparel accessories are up a whopping 30.2 percent in dollars to $29.8 million. Every category saw double digit increases except turtlenecks which were down 4.7 percent to $1.6 million. Winter boots (up 126.2 percent in dollars to $1.4 million), gloves (up 34.2 percent to $3.7 million), mitts (up 37.7 percent to $1.3 million), socks (up 46.1 percent to $2.2 million), base layer (up 22.9 percent to $7.1 million) and headwear (up 25.6 percent to $5.2 million) all jumped ahead.