McLEAN, VA (December 14, 1998) – Retail sales of snow sports products so far this season are making a total reversal from last year with specialty stores experiencing a 6.5 percent increase in dollar sales and chain stores’ sales leveling off, according to the SIA Topline Retail Audit.
Last season, chain stores drove early season sales increases while snow sports specialty stores lagged. Driving this year’s snow sports specialty store increases were snowboard equipment, alpine and snowboard apparel, accessories and shop services.
The first SIA Topline Retail Audit of the 1998-99 winter season covers the period from August 1 through October 31. The SIA Retail Audit captures more than $500 million in cash register receipts from 700 retail outlets. The data is extrapolated to generate retail sales activity for the U.S. snow sports retail market.
“Excitement for snowboards and shaped skis has not waned with both experiencing good early-season sales,” said SIA President, David Ingemie. “Short skis are certainly catching on at both specialty and chain stores.”
Snow Sports Specialty Stores Show Increases
Snowboard equipment – Sales of all snowboard equipment were up 15 percent in units and 17 percent in dollars. Snowboards tracked an identical 18 percent increase in units and in dollars, while boots jumped 26 percent in units and 23 percent in dollars. Snowboard bindings were flat in units but were up 6 percent in dollars. Step-in bindings, however, had a 21 percent increase in units and a 15 percent increase in dollars. Traditional strap snowboard binding slipped 6 percent.
Alpine Equipment – Overall, alpine equipment was down 8 percent in units and virtually flat in dollars. Alpine skis were flat in units but up 5 percent in dollars. Shaped skis increased 22 percent in units and 20 percent in dollars. Traditional skis fell 57 percent in units and 52 percent in dollars. Short skis increased a whopping 382 percent in units and 454 percent in dollars. Alpine boots were flat in units (down 1 percent) and up slightly in dollars (2 percent). Both bindings and poles suffered double-digit decreases, falling 19.6 and 11.8 percent respectively in units and 14.9 and 18.6 percent respectively in dollars.
Nordic Equipment – Nordic equipment was off to a slow start with units down 30 percent and dollars off 29 percent. Skis, boots, bindings and poles all experienced double-digit decreases, with bindings taking the biggest hit. Skis dropped 23.7 percent in units and 23.1 percent in dollars; boots fell 26.4 percent in units and 31.4 in dollars; bindings decreased 41 percent in units and 36 percent in dollars; and poles were down 32.6 percent in units and 24.8 percent in dollars.
Alpine and snowboard apparel – All snow sports apparel was up 2 percent in units, 4 percent in dollars. “Snowboard apparel, in general, may have had some early season problems with delivery and inventory levels,” said Ingemie. In individual categories, apparel tops were up 5 percent in units, 2 percent in dollars. Women’s shell parkas were the rage with a 38 percent increase in units and up 27 percent in dollars. Fleece continued to sell well with a jump of 14.8 percent in units and 17.7 percent in sales. Suits rebounded after slumping the past few years with a 13 percent increase in units and a 2 percent increase in dollars. Apparel bottoms were up 5 percent in units and 14 percent in dollars, being driven by shell and stretch waist pants. Snowboard bottoms dropped 40 percent in units and 15 percent in dollars. Snowboard tops put on increases of 8 percent in units and 16 percent in dollars.
Equipment and apparel accessories – Accessories were up 9 percent in units and 21 percent in dollars. Auto racks, snowshoes and other equipment accessory categories drove the increases. Goggles dropped 16 percent in units and 32 percent in dollars. Sunglasses were flat. Socks, turtlenecks and gloves drove apparel accessory increases. Socks leaped 18.6 percent in units and 86.5 percent in sales; turtlenecks decreased 2.7 percent in units but increased 33.9 percent in sales; and gloves were up 3.5 percent in units and 6.5 percent in sales.
Services – Retailer services (tunings, repairs and rentals) were up 21 percent in units and 52 percent in dollars. Equipment rentals drove the increases with units up 193 percent and dollars up 199 percent.
Chain Store Sales Slow
Chain store sales were down 2 percent in units and flat in terms of dollars. Nordic and snowboard equipment sales showed slight increases. In apparel, units increased by 2 percent but dollars fell by 13 percent. Accessory units were down 3 percent but dollars increased 10 percent.
Snowboard Equipment – Snowboard equipment was up 15 percent in units, 17 percent in dollars. Snowboard units and dollars were both up 18 percent, while boots were up 26 percent in units, 23 percent in dollars. Snowboard binding units were flat but dollars were up 6 percent. Like specialty stores, step-in bindings at the chains remained strong with a 21 percent increase in units and a 15 percent increase in dollars.
Alpine Equipment – Alpine equipment was up 3 percent in units and down 3 percent in dollars. Alpine skis were up 8 percent in units and flat in dollars. Shaped skis showed a 13 percent increase in units but fell 4 percent in dollars. Traditional skis took a beating, down 88 percent in units and 86 percent in dollars. Short skis increased 123 percent in units and 137 percent in dollars. Boots were up slightly in units (3 percent) and down slightly in dollars (1.9 percent). Poles were shafted with a 7 percent decrease in units and a 31 percent decrease in dollars. Bindings were up slightly in units (1.2 percent) but down in dollars (7.5 percent).
Nordic Equipment – Nordic equipment in chain stores was up a healthy 54 percent in dollars, contrasting with the 29 percent decrease experienced by specialty stores. Skis (up 27 percent), poles (up 92 percent) and boots (up 157 percent) all showed increases in dollars. Bindings were down 21 percent in dollars.
Alpine and snowboard apparel – Snow sports apparel was up 2 percent in units but fell 13 percent in dollars. Apparel tops were up 10 percent in units but down 8 percent in dollars. Women’s shell parkas had a 9 percent increase in units but prices did not hold and dollar sales fell by 5 percent. Fleece sold well in chains with 65 percent increase in units and a 56 percent increase in dollars. Alpine suits were hit hard, falling a third in units and 40 percent in dollars. Apparel bottoms were up 7 percent in units, but dropped 8 percent in dollars. Bottoms were driven by shell, fleece and stretch waist pants. Snowboard apparel was off 51 percent in units and 48 percent in dollars. Snowboard bottoms were down 64 percent in units, 63 percent in dollars. Snowboard tops had decreases of 33 percent in both units and dollars.
Equipment and Apparel Accessories – Accessories were down 3 percent in units, 10 percent in dollars. Goggles and auto racks drove the increases in equipment accessories. Goggles went up 126.7 percent in units and 132.8 in sales. Auto racks went up 5.2 percent in units and 13.8 percent in sales. Snowshoes dropped 40 percent in units and 35 percent in dollars. Underwear and gloves drove apparel accessory increases. Underwear was up 156.8 percent in units and 154.2 percent in sales. Gloves went up 30.2 percent in units and 17 percent in sales. “All-in-all, early season sales and inventory levels seem to be in pretty good shape, said Ingemie. “With inventory levels tight and manufacturers able to deliver just-in-time orders, a little white stuff will drive sales and then re-orders from retailers.”
SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is the national, nonprofit, member-owned trade association of more than 700 competing snow sports product manufacturers, suppliers and distributors working together to promote and develop the snow sports industry. SIA produces the Vegas Show, the largest order writing show and gathering place for the snow sports industry. Proceeds from the Vegas Show fund market development programs for all snow sports disciplines. SIA also annually produces more than a dozen industry research studies. For more information, check out www.snowlink.com or the SIA Fax-On-Demand service, (800) 730-3636.