Retail Sales Showed Broad Strength In Fall

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Publish Date

01/12/2006

SAM Magazine-McLean, Va., Jan. 12, 2006-If early retail sales are a barometer for resort visits, this could be a banner year. Overall sales for the winter sports market were up 8 percent in both dollars and units for the August through November period of 2005. Sales totaled $696.9 million for the period, compared to $647.8 million reported last year, according to the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit.

Specialty stores and chains performed equally well, and in several cases, the same categories of goods led the sales rise in both channels. Apparel posted double-digit growth, led by increased sales of soft shell garments, and women's and junior wear. (And led particularly by women's and junior soft shells, each up more than 100 percent in specialty stores.) Snowboard apparel was also strong. Technical daypacks, luggage, and sunglasses led the growth in accessories sales, which were also up about 8 percent from a year ago.

Snowboard and ski equipment sales rose in the single-digit range, too, led by freestyle boards, twintip skis and ski-binding systems. In specialty stores, which account for more than 75 percent of winter sports market, freestyle snowboard sales were up 24 percent, and topped the sales of freeride boards; twintip sales rose 54 percent, and systems ski sales were up 27 percent. "Flat" skis (without bindings) still outsell systems by nearly 2 to 1-but that ratio is sinking fast. Last year, it was nearly 3 to 1 for this period.

Nordic gear sales were up in specialty stores but down in chains, and overall were up slightly from the previous year. Telemark gear was down more than 20 percent in specialty stores and flat in chains, leading to an overall decline in tele sales after two years of growth.

Of the few other categories that were trending down, turtlenecks, snowskates and snow decks, and snowshoes (down 47 percent in specialty stores) led the way.