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SAM Magazine—McLean, Va., Nov. 8, 2012—Retail sales increased 2 percent in units and 1 percent in dollars in August and September, according to the SIA RetailTRAK. This put sales at a four-season high in both units and dollars, with notably strong sales in the alpine equipment and accessories categories. The report is based on information from more than 1,200 snowsports retailers.

A year ago, momentum from the snowy 2010-11 season drove record early-season sales; this year, pent-up demand and a solid sense of optimism about snow are driving the high sales level.

Sales by Channel

Specialty shop sales fell slightly, down 3 percent in equipment, 2 percent in apparel and 7 percent in accessories. Chain store sales were flat, although equipment sales were down 19 percent. Chain stores have limited their equipment offerings in recent years, and much of the decline in sales can be directly attributed to reduced offerings rather than slack demand. Accessories sales increased 15 percent in dollars as sunglasses, headwear, base layer and gloves sold exceptionally well.

Online sales were up 11 percent in dollars and 19 percent in units sold. This channel surpassed chain store sales for the period. Alpine ski equipment sales increased 18 percent in dollars sold, snowboards increased 18 percent, and accessories sales soared 17 percent.

Early season trends:
• Alpine ski equipment sales were up 5 percent in units.
• Snowboard equipment sales were down 4 percent in units and were at a four-year low.
• Cross country equipment sales were down 9 percent in units.
• Apparel sales fell 2 percent, but still made up more than 40 percent of all snow sports retail sales.
• Accessories sales increased 4 percent in units, with helmets, luggage, gloves and base layers all selling well.