Chain Store Hardgoods Sales Up 44%

Snowboard Equipment and Juniors Categories Show Significant Increases

MCLEAN, Va. (February, 2003) — Chain store sales were up 2.2 percent for August through December compared to the same period of 2001. In dollars, that translates to $293.9 million in sales so far this year compared to $287.6 million in 2001. The unit sales tracked behind last year (-9.3 percent). “Families are buying in chain stores which is supported by the increase in purchases in the junior categories,” said Julie Lynch, Director of Market Research for SnowSports Industries America (SIA), the not-for-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products.

Hard Goods Grow, Apparel and Accessories Decline

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) for chain stores was up 43.8 percent to $103.8 million from $72.2 million in 2001. Alpine gear was up 29.5 percent to $46.8 million as compared to $36.2 last year. Snowboard equipment was a bright spot at chain stores; it was up 73.0 percent or $53.7 million in sales. Sales for snowboard equipment in 2001 tracked at $31 million.

Both apparel and accessories did poorly in chain stores during the holiday season. Apparel was down 9.6 percent to $110.3 million as compared to $122 million last season while accessories declined 14.5 percent to $79.8 million as compared to 2001, which was $93.4 million.

Snowboard Equipment Sales Stay Strong

Alpine ski sales increased 8.6 percent in dollars to $16.6 million while units dropped 20.4 percent, excluding ski systems. The average retail for a pair of skis was $200 compared to $147 in 2001. The problem was the lack of close outs which were in short supply. Ski systems surged ahead over last year by 698 percent. Midfat skis represent almost 50 percent of unit sales. This category was tracking ahead 80.5 percent. Junior skis are flying off the shelves with an increase of 112.2 percent in dollars and 108 percent in units.

The alpine equipment sales were driven by boots, which increased 28 percent in unit sales. According to Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, “More boots sold than skis. For every eight pairs of skis sold, chains sold 10 pairs of boots.” Sport performance boots are the hot seller in chains while juniors are up 138.9 percent.

Bindings are tracking similar to skis. Units are down 16.3 percent but dollars barely dipped at 1.1 percent. The problem could be higher prices. The average retail this season is $87 compared to $74 in 2001. Junior bindings were also a hot product increasing 108 percent in dollars. Poles are up (60.1 percent) to $2.8 million.

Snowboard equipment saved the period. Snowboard sales in dollars were ahead 62.3 percent to $22.9 million. Snowboards were selling for a higher retail average price ($185) with all-mountain being dubbed, volume leader. Snowboard boots and bindings followed suit. Boots advanced 75.5 percent in dollars to $17.2 million while bindings tracked ahead 90.5 percent in dollars to $13.6 million.

Apparel See Declines

Apparel tops declined 10.1 percent in dollars to $67.9 million. The only categories to see any type of increase was junior apparel. Both junior insulated parkas and shell parkas gained in dollars, increasing 18.9 percent and 29.1 percent, respectively. Soft shell parkas advanced 30 percent in dollars with an average retail price of $193. In chain stores, vests, fleece, and sweater sales all unraveled.

Like tops, bottoms declined 7.8 percent in dollars to $21.8 million. Carry-over accounted for 50 percent of all alpine bottom sales. Stretch waist pants and soft shell waist pants were the only categories to grow, increasing 2.2 percent and 41.5 percent in dollars, respectively.

Lack of carry over precipitated a 7.3 percent decline in snowboard apparel dollars. New men’s and women’s tops sold, gaining 12.7 percent and 4.8 percent in dollars, respectively. However, snowboard bottoms tracked 3.5 percent behind. The only category to show anny increase was women’s bottoms, gaining 39.2 percent in dollars.

Snowdecks/skates are Hot in Chain Stores

The accessories business was slow for the month of December. Equipment accessories were down 13.4 percent to $32.5 million. The hottest seller in chain stores this season has been the snowdecks/skate, gaining 45.6 percent in dollars and 108.8 percent in units. The only other category to see any growth was sunglasses, up 10.8 percent. Apparel accessories had a tough time of it also. This category was down even more at 15.3 percent to $47.3 million. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This is the third of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, 2003, the end of the winter season.


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 SnowSports Industries America, 8377-B Greensboro Drive, McLean, VA 22102-3587. Phone: (703) 556-9020, Fax: (703) 821-8276, Email: