The snow sports market brought in a record $3.3 billion over the full 2010/11 season (previous highest sales record was $3 billion, set in 2007/08). Overall, snow sports sales were up 8% in units sold, and 12% in dollars sold. Leaner inventories kept prices strong throughout the season, equipment inventories finished the season 19% leaner and equipment prices were 10% higher than they were at the close of last season. In fact, retail margins finished the season up 10% for equipment, up 10% for accessories, and up 4% for apparel goods sold.
This season, American consumers spent $902 million on snow sports equipment. Sales peaked in December and January but fell off the pace in February and March due to scarcity. Prices remained strong through the end of the season, particularly for equipment, demonstrating the market power of leaner inventories. In the past, retailers incentivized buyers with slashed prices for equipment, often selling current season equipment as carryover (sold at or below average retail cost). This season, sales of carryover equipment units were down 37% in February and down 27% in March 2011.
2010/2011 Season Trends
Alpine skis (flat skis sold without bindings) in the 80mm-110mm waist width category were up 74% in dollars sold on more than 74,000 units compared to 47,000 units sold last season.
Women’s ski sales increased 20% in units sold and 26% in dollars sold this season. 149,000 out of a total of 419,000 alpine skis sold were women’s models this season.
AT/Randonee equipment sales finished the season up 90% overall in dollars sold, and up 87% in units sold. Most notably, AT/Randonee boots sales finished up 126% in units and up 124% in dollars sold.
Reverse/Mixed camber ski sales finished the season up 134% in units sold and 129% in dollars sold. Approximately 54,000 pairs of reverse camber/mixed camber skis were sold this season.
Reverse camber snowboard sales were up 42% in units sold and 46% in dollars sold. In fact, 45% of all current season model boards sold this season have reverse camber.
Americans fought the cold with insulated parkas this season and sales reflected cold and snowy La Niña conditions. Insulated parka sales finished the season up 24% in units sold and up 24% in dollars sold to $394 million in total sales.
Helmet sales were very strong this season with 1.2 million sold, up 3% in units sold and up 12% in dollars sold.
Snowshoe sales are up 21% in units and up 20% in dollars sold through February this season.
Snow sports accessories like helmets, gloves, ski racks, and snowshoes enjoyed excellent sales this season, accessories sales finished the season up 9% in units sold and up 14% in dollars sold bringing in $1.2 billion total. Helmets accounted for 10% of all accessories sales this season as the trend to protect against head injuries in skiing and other sports where collisions are likely continued to gain strength on new medical discoveries. In fact, more than 1.2 million snow sports specific helmets were sold this season.
Apparel sales set a new record this season with $1.2 billion sold. The weather helped push apparel sales throughout the season as La Niña dumped snow across the Northern half of the U.S. through April. Overall, apparel sales were up 7% in units sold and up 11% in dollars sold. Keep in mind that snow sports apparel is purchased by many who will never ride a ski lift but want to be warm, dry and fashionable in the worst winter weather.
Weather plays the most critical role in snow sports sales. Regionally, heavy snow and colder than average temperatures drove consumers to buy in the western region where sales were up 21% in equipment dollars sold, 14% in apparel and 20% in accessories sales. The Northeast also enjoyed sales increasing including 15% more in equipment dollars, 18% more in apparel and 19% in accessories dollars sold during the season. In the South, snow sports participants who were headed for more mountainous terrain continued their equipment buying spree increasing sales up 16%, but warmer weather in the southern U.S. did not drive apparel and accessories sales. Southern apparel sales were relatively flat with a 2% gain in dollars sold and accessories are up just 1% over last season. The Midwestern region’s sales continued to grow this season; up 13% in equipment, 4% in apparel and up 13% in accessories dollars sold.