2006-07 Retail Sales: Apparel Up, Gear Down

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SAM Magazine-McLean, Va., May 24, 2007-Total dollar sales for wintersports specialty stores rebounded from a midseason slump, finishing at $1.8 billion, just one percent off last year's total, according to the end-of-season Retail Audit conducted by Leisure Trends Group for SnowSports Industries America (SIA). Overall unit sales and average retail selling prices were flat, as strong early and late selling in the East and Midwest coupled with consistently strong sales in the Rockies and West.

Chain store sales for the 2006-07 season were estimated at $550 million, a 2 percent increase. Internet sales totaled $341 million this season, the first in which the Audit has tracked this sales channel. Combined, the retail market was an estimated $2.7 billion.

Softgoods brought in the hard returns. Apparel gained an impressive 8 percent, to $623 million. On the flip side, equipment sales slid 9 percent, to $564 million. Apparel also led the way in Internet sales: it accounted for 56 percent of the total, compared to 35 percent in brick-and-mortar specialty stores. Conversely, equipment brought in just 19 percent online, compared to 32 percent at physical stores.

Key trends from specialty store sales:

• The integrated ski system has officially taken over. While systems sales came in 25,000 units below sales of traditional "flat" skis, total system dollar sales exceeded $104 million, compared to just $98 million for all flat skis and binding sales combined.

• Midfats (up 13 percent in units) and fat skis (up 79 percent) did exceptionally well. Twintips (up 11 percent in units) were the only flat ski category to see increased sales.

• Snowboard sales declined by 13 percent in 2006/2007. All-mountain sales (up 24 percent in units) accounted for 16 percent of all boards sold, up from 12 percent the previous season.

• The planet is warming, but apparently not fast enough for some people: insulated alpine top sales surged 19 percent. Insulated tops accounted for 46 percent of all alpine top dollars, up from just 33 percent in 2001/2002. Wintersports participants place a priority on staying in style.

• Apparel categories that were hot: softshell parkas, fleece, women's apparel (doubled in sales since 2001-02), and kids.