Retail Snowsports Sales Fell in Early Season

539 view(s)

Publish Date


SAM Magazine-McLean, Va., Feb. 22, 2007-Overall sales for both specialty and chain stores were down 3 percent to $1.46 billion for the August through December period of 2006, compared to $1.50 billion reported last year, according to the SIA Retail Audit. Unit sales were down 9 percent. "Strong sales in the Rockies, California and the Pacific Northwest helped offset the declines to the East. The industry continues to see growth in integrated ski systems, up 6 percent, and winter apparel, up 8 percent over last season," said Christine Martinez, SIA market research manager.

Sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops were down 4 percent in dollars compared to last season. Unit sales were down 8 percent. Since specialty stores account for the majority of the reported sales, and since a change in methodology makes chain store sales comparisons impossible, the following trends are culled from the specialty store data.

Specialty apparel sales (including tops, bottoms, suits and snowboard) remained ahead 8 percent. By the end of December 2006, apparel sales had reached $403.6 million, outselling equipment sales by $29 million.

Overall, alpine apparel tops grew 15 percent. Alpine bottoms, however, fell 4 percent, hurt by this season's warm weather. Stretch waist pant dollars increased 5 percent. Apparel suits continue to decline, dropping 21 percent in dollars.

Insulated parka sales rose 19 percent. Women's insulated parkas outsold men's insulated parkas nearly 1.5 to 1. Softshell parka sales jumped 29 percent. Men's gained 35 percent, women's 19 percent and juniors 38 percent. In softshells, 64 percent of the adult units sold are men's. Shell parkas declined 9 percent, mostly on weakness with women. Vests (no fleece) and fleece (includes vests) increased 21 percent and 37 percent, respectively. Sweaters bounced back after a slow season last year, up 5 percent. Stretch waist pant dollars increased 5 percent.

Junior alpine apparel sales ticked up, led by insulated parkas (up 16 percent), softshell parkas (up 38 percent) and bottoms (up 6 percent).

Snowboard apparel sales dipped 2 percent. Top categories include tops, up 4 percent, as sales of women's snowboard tops and bottoms rose 17 percent. Junior snowboard top sales increased 13 percent over last season. Through December, snowboard tops outsold snowboard bottoms by a ratio of just 1.1 to 1. Compare that to alpine tops which outsold alpine bottoms 3.4 to 1.

The accessories category tumbled 7 percent. Apparel accessories dipped 4 percent; only turtlenecks (5 percent) and winter boots (5 percent) scored gains. Equipment accessory sales declined 11 percent; led by drops in sunglasses (20 percent), snowshoes (40 percent) and wax (28 percent).

Overall equipment sales (alpine, snowboard, Nordic, Telemark and Randonee/AT) were down 11 percent.

In specialty stores, sales of alpine equipment (including skis, ski systems, boots, bindings and poles) fell 7 percent. Total ski sales were off just 3 percent. Of note: for the first time ever, adult integrated ski systems outsold bindingless skis. In December, 55 percent of all adult skis sold were systems. Just five seasons ago, ski systems accounted for only 11 percent of all ski units. Twintip skis gained 11 percent in dollars, and now account for 16 percent of all alpine ski sales. Adult midfat systems, 50 percent of the total, surged 21 percent. Junior ski systems surged 66 percent in dollars, though bindingless junior skis still outsold systems more than 3 to 1.

In boots, adult high performance boot sales inched up 1 percent, but fell for adult sport performance boots (down 23 percent), adult soft boots (down 79 percent), adult recreation boots (down 17 percent), and junior boots (down 13 percent). Stand-alone binding sales dropped a hefty 21 percent.

Snowboard equipment sales (including snowboards, boots and bindings) were down 16 percent. Of note: all-mountain boards jumped 27 percent and accounted for 14 percent of all board dollars sold, up from 9 percent last season at this time. Freestyle boards, the largest category, fell 14 percent while freeride boards dropped 27 percent.

Nordic ski equipment sales decreased 33 percent while telemark gear sales fell 29 percent. While still a tiny category, randonee/AT equipment sales rose 29 percent.

New for this season, the SIA Retail Audit is tracking Internet sales. For the August through December period, snowsport Internet sales totaled $234.9 million, more than 15 percent of the brick-and-mortar total. Of this, 60 percent are apparel sales, especially tops-at $118.4 million tops account for half of Internet sales. Adult twintip skis, at 6,000 pairs sold, accounted for 30 percent of all ski units. With 4,000 units sold, junior skis were the second-fastest-selling bindingless ski category. The Nordic, telemark and randonee equipment categories together account for 15 percent of all online equipment dollars sold, compared to just 4 percent in specialty stores.