Snowboards, Apparel, X-C Shine at Retail

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SAM Magazine--McLean, Va., June 7, 2004--Overall sales at ski and snowboard specialty and chain stores for August through March increased a mere 0.6 percent in dollars during 2003-04 season, to $2.21 billion, compared to $2.20 billion for 2002-03, according to the end-of-season SIA Retail Audit.

In snowboards, both equipment and apparel sales increased more than 15 percent in specialty stores. The bright spots: Freestyle boards were up 37 percent and accounted for 40 percent of dollar volume, as pipe and park growth spurred sales. All-mountain boards were up 48 percent but represent just 7 percent of sales. Freeride board sales were flat while freeride/freestyle hybrid boards declined 28 percent.

Overall, specialty apparel sales (including tops, bottoms and snowboard) ended the season up 8 percent. Cold weather in the East helped propel snowboard apparel, as well as insulated parkas and soft shells, fleece and base layer apparel. Sales of soft shell parkas and pants more than doubled.

Integrated ski systems showed gains in both specialty and chain stores, rising 24 percent at specialty stores and nearly doubling at chains. Fat skis also were up. But overall, alpine gear sales declined by about 10 percent, as carving skis, skiboards, and midfats slid. Twintip ski sales were essentially flat while junior skis were up about 10 percent. Recreation and soft boots were off by at least 30 percent.

Nordic and telemark ski equipment saw big gains on small volume. Nordic ski equipment sales jumped 43 percent in specialty stores, with telemark sales up 86 percent. Chains saw similar increases. Still, tele ski sales in specialty stores, the primary retail channel, totaled just 7,400 pairs.

Accessories sales were little changed overall from the previous year, although two noteworthy categories experienced declines: snow deck/skate sales dropped 54 percent, and helmets were off by 29 percent. \