Juniors, Snowboarding Lead Retail Sales

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SAM Magazine--McLean, Va., Jan. 1, 2004--Strong sales of junior gear and apparel and a rebound in the sales of snowboard gear during August through November kept retail sales at ski and snowboard outlets nearly flat with 2002, according to the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit.

Overall, sales for the entire winter sports market (including specialty and chain stores) fell 1.65 percent in dollars to $652.0 million compared to $663.0 million in 2002 for the August through November period. Unit sales were ahead 0.38 percent.

Junior gear continues on a tear, and that bodes well for the future. Junior ski sales were up 25 percent in units and 8 percent in dollars in specialty stores. In chains, the dollar increase was 23 percent. Junior Alpine apparel sales overall were little changed from a year ago, but junior snowboard apparel soared. Tops and bottoms grew by 23 and 22 percent, respectively.

Snowboard sales were up 11 percent in dollars and 12 percent in units at specialty stores, and up 5 percent in dollars, 18 percent in units at chains. Retailers at all levels moved a lot of carryover snowboard inventory after two years of relatively flat sales.

Two alternate sliding options, Telemark and Nordic, showed increases. In specialty stores, Nordic equipment (including skis, boots, bindings and poles) sales propelled forward, tracking at $8.2 million, an increase of 39 percent. Telemark equipment (including skis, boots, and bindings), a new category in the retail audit, tracked at $2.1 million.

Most notable of the categories showing a decline was snowdecks/skates, down 53 percent in specialty stores, to $395,816, and down 39.8 percent in chains, to $126,284. This category took off two years ago, was down slightly one year ago, and fell further this fall.

Sales in dollars were down overall in the month of November as consumers shopped for bargains. Sales were up at chain stores by 4.7 percent, but down at the typically more expensive specialty stores by 9 percent. \