Retail Report: Apparel Sales Up, Gear Down

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SAM Magazine-McLean, Va., May 1, 2007-Sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops were down 1 percent in dollars for the August-February period, from $1.67 billion in 2005-06 to $1.65 billion this past season, according to The SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit conducted by Leisure Trends Group. Unit sales declined 0.5 percent, as increased apparel sales largely offset a drop in hard goods.

Lack of significant snowfall until late January depressed sales in the eastern half of the country and led many retailers there to reduce prices to move goods. "Sales in the Rockies and much of the West continued to thrive and helped offset the early season declines in the rest of the country," said Christine Martinez, market research manager for SIA.

For the August 2006 through February 2007 period, snowsport Internet sales totaled $310 million. Total sales at specialty stores and via the Internet climbed to nearly $2 billion for the period. Chain-store data is not being reported this year, as a major national chain has withdrawn from the Audit.

The high and low points through February:

Apparel sales totaled $578 million, an 8 percent increase over the same period the prior year. Insulated and softshell parkas led the way, up 23 and 20 percent, respectively. Apparel accessory sales were strong in February in particular; they increased 14 percent in units and 17 percent in dollars for the month.

In hard goods, integrated ski system sales increased 8 percent in units and 6 percent in dollars through February. Similarly, twintip sales rose 9 percent in units, 23 percent in dollars.

Other hard goods sales suffered, especially sales of snowboards and non-system skis, both down 12 percent.