In Southern California it didn't snow for most of December and January. Across the continental United States conditions were, for the most part, stinky. But by the middle of January, resorts finally received the snowfall they needed, and retail sales were affected to some extent.
SNOWboarding Business polled specialty shops from coast to coast to see whether sales were better or worse than last year; were they as good as expected; what brands were selling best; and of boards, boots, bindings, and apparel, which category was selling fastest?
Although snow conditions were below expectations, sales weren't affected that much. Anticipation mixed with hype appeared to be the lifeline keeping the season's sales surviving in the east and thriving in the west.
From Vermont to California, nobody claimed superb early season snow. The supposed La Niña overflow from El Niño didn't live up to La Familia hype. On the East Coast, Underground in Brookline, Massachusetts; P.S.N.Y. in New York; Wall Street Board Exchange in Morgantown, West Virginia; and B-side in Burlington, Vermont all hoped for more snowfall. Yet sales were better than expected.
According to Andy Lugo, employee at B-side, “Skiers are watching their friends crossover.” And with the crossover comes a higher-dollar demographic–new snowboard shoppers who spend more money. A favorable factor Lugo sees preventing a potentially dismal season.
In the Midwest, The Shred Shop in Skokie, Illinois beat the drastic weather thanks to the affluent customers in its area. Yet sales at Alternative Bike and Board in Minneapolis, Minnesota slowed with the stagnant snow conditions.
Powdertools in Snowbird, Colorado and Salty Peaks in Salt Lake City, Utah relied on Christmas sales. Snowboard Addict in Frisco, Colorado and Hole in the Wall in Jackson Hole, Wyoming opened new specialty storefronts that gave both of them good results.
On the West Coast, Faction in Seattle, Washington dropped its ski lines with favorable results. Extreme Board Shop in Grants Pass, Oregon; Go Skate in San Jose, California; Active Ride Shop in Temecula, California; and Surf Ride in Oceanside, California all reported better-than-expected sales.
As for products, long live the king. In the fight for market share, nearly two-thirds of the retailers claimed Burton as the overall winner.
According to Assistant Manager Richard Dennis of Powdertools, Utah, “Burton has so much stuff it's inevitable it would be the top seller. Half of the products in Powdertools is Burton stuff and half is the others.”
Best-selling-brand votes also went to Forum, Never Summer, Sessions, Gnu, and 32 boots. Lib Tech, Four Square, Special Blend, 686, Morrow, Planet Earth, Salomon, Betty Rides, Ride, Silence, Nitro, K2, and Glissade all received honorable mention.
Glissade's Crap boards have a huge following in Northern California, according to Dale Smith, president of Go Skate. Whether it's Burton in Vermont or 32 boots in Southern California, regional name allegiances seem to be building.
When it came to the best-selling category, it was tough for retailers to judge. There were a few instances where retailers didn't order enough, sold out quickly, and couldn't re-order because of sold-out factory inventories. The fastest sellers were a toss-up between apparel and boards, then boots, followed by bindings.