Snow sports market sales steady for 2009-2010 holiday season

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 28, 2010 9:26 am

McLean, VA (Jan. 28, 2010) — According to SnowSports Industries America’s (SIA) latest Retail Audit, snow sports holiday sales showed modest gains over last season’s holiday sales but a healthy snowstorm and atypically cold temperatures in the South drove stronger sales for that region.  Overall dollar sales totaling $1.8 billion (carryover included) were 1.4% higher than August through December sales last season.  Equipment sales are up 2.4% in dollars, apparel sales are up 1%, and accessories are up almost 5% over last season’s August to December sales.  Consumers continue to increase their sales online but that trend appears to be leveling off with increased dollars sales of 9.7%.

Overall, specialty shops’ sales are flat season to date but equipment and accessories sales are up indicating that core skiers and riders still depend on the expertise only specialty shops can offer as a true value-add to real snow sports consumers.  Equipment sales are down about 2% through December with significant declines in the snowboard category, but alpine, Nordic, and particularly randonee/AT sales are quite healthy.  Weather patterns typical to El Niño drove sales in a colder and wetter southern region and healthy snowfall drove sales in the Northeast. Overall, the 2009.10 snow sports market was healthy and stable through the 2009.10 holiday season.

Quick Trends

    * Fat Skis–current season model sales increase by more than $6 million
    * Reverse camber snowboards–4 of the top 5 selling board this season are rocker boards
    * AT/Randonee Skis–unit sales up 60% to 3,979 skis
    * High performance alpine boots — up 16.5% in units and up 19% in dollars sold
    * Snowshoes–sales up 7% in dollars with 94,322 units sold in snow sports shops
    * Alpine tops–up 3% in dollars sold compared to 10% decrease in dollars sold for snowboard apparel tops
    * Insulated apparel–cold and wet weather resulted in sales increase of more than $15.5 million
    * Helmets–may be the hottest category in the market with 656,523 sold so far this season.  Retailers are making more per helmet units and unit sales are up 29% for almost $11 million more dollars sold through December 2009.  Helmet sales are on track to hit 1 million units in 2009.10 season
    * Winter boots–fashion trends drive an 11% increase in unit sales and a corresponding 21% increase in dollar sales
    * Sales in the South–El Niño brings colder and wetter weather to the southern U.S. and cold southerners are buying plenty of gloves, hats, and parkas to get through the winter

Regional Results

The Leisure Trends Group is now providing SIA members with in-depth regional data throughout the snow sports season. For the first time, SIA will provide members with information throughout the season about sales in the Northeastern, Western, Midwestern, and Southern U.S. regions.

Regional Sales       Season to Date Growth Units     Season to Date Growth $   Total Dollar Sales ($millions)  

Northeast Equipment                -6.4%                                     -3.1%                            $120                                 

Northeast Apparel                    -0.6%                                      1.0%                             $113

Northeast Accessories             -0.3%                                      7.2%                             $93

Northeast Total Sales             -1.4%                                      1.1%                             $326

West Equipment                   -9.2%                                       -3.9%                             $115

West Apparel                       -7.5%                                      -3.6%                              $106

West Accessories                -9.2%                                      0.9%                               $119

West Total Sales                -8.9%                                      -2.2%                               $340


South Equipment             9.6%                                        11.1%                             $39

South Apparel                9.5%                                        4.1%                              $74

South Accessories       9.0%                                        14.0%                            $53

South Total Sales       9.1%                                         8.8%                            $166


Midwest Equipment     -4.5%                                  -1.8%                            $57

Midwest Apparel       -9.3%                                     -3.3%                         $90

Midwest Accessories  -10.0%                               -1.6%                          $55

Midwest Total Sales    -9.2%                                 -2.4%                        $202

All U.S. Equipment      -5.4%                             -1.7%                         $330

All U.S. Apparel         -3.1%                             -0.8%                          $383

All U.S. Accessories   -4.2%                            4.2%                           $320

All U.S. Total Sales–No Carryover    -4.1%      0.4%                          $1,033

Source:  Leisure Trends Group Aug-December 2009 Regional Category Data, carryover Sales not included


Snow Sports Specialty, $1.03 billion—Down 4% in units and up .5% in dollars

Alpine ski equipment sales increased 2.5% in dollars on strong sales of fat skis (>80mm waist width), high performance alpine boots, AND high end bindings (DIN 12+).  Carryover dollar sales of alpine equipment fell 14% for skis, 9% for boots, and 14% for bindings.  Snowboard equipment sales were down 9% while snowboard carryover sales increased 25%.  Inventories in specialty shops were about 11% smaller for alpine equipment, down 8% in snowboard equipment, and down 3% overall compared to 2008 levels at the end of December.  Sell through in specialty shops was at 42% for equipment, 48% for apparel items, and 40% for all accessories.  Retail prices have increased about 4% overall in specialty driving better margins (1.2% increase) and ensuring better cash flow for specialty retailers throughout the season.

Internet, $410 million – Up 3.5% units and up 10% in dollars

The Internet channel continues to grow but appears to be leveling off after three seasons of hyperactive growth.  Online sales were up 3.5% in units and 10% in dollars season to date after posting gains of 28% in units and 26% in dollars as recently as August to October 2009.  Equipment sales increased most with 10% growth in units sold and more 13% growth in dollars sold.  Apparel sales saw a modest gain of 3% in units sales and 8% in dollar sales August through December.  Accessories sales gains were up 3% in units and 10% in dollars so far this season. Internet sales include sales through clicks only” establishments that have no brick and mortar shop for customers to visit, it’s all online as well as online sales in shops with a brick and mortar location and a commerce enabled website for their customers.  Many of the sales reported come from brick and mortar establishments that are reaching customers online and in the shop.

Chain Stores, $373 million–Down 7% in units and down 4% in dollars

Chain store sales were driven primarily by apparel and accessories sales through the holidays.  Equipment sales nosedived with 19% decrease in units sold and 16% decrease in dollars sold.  Snowboard equipment sales were particularly hard hit with 21% fewer units sold and 22% fewer dollars sold.  In fact, the only equipment category that showed any gain in chain stores were alpine flat skis that brought in almost 5% more dollars so far this season.  Chain stores sell far less equipment than specialty or online sales channels.  In fact, chain stores sold fewer than 60,000 of the 370,000 skis sold so far this season.  Even the traditionally strong apparel sales in chain stores decreased in December with declines of 9% in units and 3% in dollars sold season to date.   Sales of accessories provided chain stores with the only gain in dollars sales, a modest 2% in dollars sold.  Overall, consumers appear to choose chain stores less often for their equipment needs and chains are responding by minimizing their focus on equipment sales.

The market data presented in this report comes from the SIA Retail Audit conducted by the Leisure Trends Group.   The Retail Audit data is gathered directly from the Point of Sale systems of about 1/3 of the snow sports retailers in the U.S. market.  Each season, Leisure Trends gathers snow sports sales data from a representative panel of more than 1,200 snow sports retailers who provide sales data directly from their Point of Sale systems.  The panel and the method for extrapolating the results out to the entire industry is based on a triennial census of snow sports retailers designed to accurately define the size and structure of the snow sports retail marketplace.  SIA maintains these data for members down to the product level.