Sales of winter sports products from the August to January time period for all stores (specialty and chain) were down 6.5 percent compared to the same period in 2000, according to the SIA Retail Audit. In dollars, that translates to $1.6 billion in sales so far this year compared to $1.7 billion for the same period in 2000.

Specialty stores numbers specifically were down 5.7 percent, which translates into $1.22 billion compared to $1.3 billion last season for the same time period while chain stores were down 9.2 percent from $348 million compared to $423 million last season.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) in specialty stores was down just slightly by 0.2 percent to $532 million from $533 million in 2000.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) for chain stores was down 16.4 percent to $92.8 million from $111 million in 2000.

According to Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, “This is the year of innovation, snow skates/decks, snowshoes, ski systems, snowboards, and helmets all made major contributions to sales. Innovation is especially important during seasons of parsimonious snow. It provides reasons for the core market to buy. Without innovation, long-time skiers and riders tend to use what they have.”

Apparel and accessories both saw losses, 7.1 percent and 11.6 percent respectively for specialty stores. In chain stores, both apparel and accessories saw losses during the August through January time period, down 3.9 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively. A complete report should be out later this week.