McLEAN, VA (March 30, 2000) — Alpine skiers, cross country skiers and snowboarders went on a buying spree from the middle of January through February — once it started to snow across the U.S.

In the first-ever interim Retail Audit report issued by SnowSports Industries America, February sales this year compared to February 1999 showed dollar sales in specialty stores up 90 percent. In chain stores the gain was 20.4 percent. Retail sales figures are collected five times each winter; October, November, December, January and March. The Retail Audit reports are released in November, December, January, March and April. The season-ending final report is due in mid-April and will contain sales through the end of March.

“The February numbers bear out what we’ve been saying all year,” said SIA President David Ingemie. “There is pent-up consumer demand for snow sports products, and the trigger was significant snowfall over much of the country.”

For the first time since the retail Audit has been produced, February sales this year were 4 percent stronger in specialty stores than in the traditionally busy December. In a typical year, December accounts for 32 percent of total annual sales of snow sports equipment, apparel and accessories. The snow sports selling season is defined as sales from August 1 through March 31.

Industry sales through the end of January were off 4.7 percent for the year to date. “February’s sales surge will more than compensate for any sales shortfalls,” said Jim Spring, president of Leisure Trends Group, the firm that compiles the SIA Retail Audit. “While March information is not yet available, we predict that sales for the season will be up by at least $200 million, or 8.9 percent.”

SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is the national, nonprofit, member-owned trade association of competing on-snow product manufacturers, suppliers and distributors working together to promote and develop the winter sports industry.