Skateboarding shows no signs of slowing.
In 1981 and 1991, the skateboard industry was struggling to maintain and grow thesmall core of skaters who continued to practice the sport long after themainstream crowds had come and gone. In the late 70s and late 80s, skateboardingenjoyed participation approaching 20-million people internationally. But thetides that brought them to the sport always seemed to eventually pull themaway. If skateboarding were still susceptible to these same cyclical trends,right now we’d be in the middle of another recession.
Butwe’re not, and industry veterans are confident that skateboarding is in amuch better position than it was ten or twenty years ago–the sport itselfis more diverse, and there are more places to do it. Skateboarding’scontinued growth seems to support this theory.
TransWorldSKATEboarding Business magazine has beensurveying retailers since 1997, and responding shops have overwhelminglyreported that their businesses continue to grow in all sectors–hardgoods,softgoods, and footwear. This information reflects general sales activityduring Fall 2000 at 146 skateboard retail shops across the continental UnitedStates. The information used in this report was provided by retailers via mailsurvey and telephone interview. These results do not reflect actual marketshare, nor do they imply endorsement of particular brands by TransWorld Media.
Respondents report an average increase of 27.25 percent in sales activity as compared to Fall 1999. They order 52 percent of their inventory from independent distributors, and the other 48 percent direct from companies.
Respondingshops range from skateboard-only retailers to mall-based beach shops. Mostcarry equipment for at least two sports, though 27 percent of respondents tothe Fall 2000 Retailer Survey report selling skateboard-related products only(hardgoods, softgoods, and shoes).
Otherthan skateboards and skateboard-related goods, popular product categoriesinclude the following: snowboard hardgoods, boots, and apparel (carried byabout 50 percent of shops surveyed); junior and girls’ apparel (carriedby about 45 percent of shops surveyed); surf apparel (carried by about 29percent of shops surveyed); in-line hardgoods (carried by about 25 percent ofshops surveyed); in-line apparel (carried by about 19 percent of shopssurveyed); and surf hardgoods (carried by about 15 percent of shops surveyed).
Asa percentage of their total skateboard-related product sales, respondentsreport the following: decks (29%), shoes (23%), apparel (16%), wheels (12%),trucks (10%), accessories (10%).
Whenasked which brands lead sales in various categories, respondents listed theiranswers, beginning with the top brand and ending with the fifth best. Eachposition in the list was given a score of five for first place, down to one forfifth place. Individual brands therefore accrued points to determine theirranking. Points are indicated in parentheses following the brand name.
Nationwide,shops surveyed report that skateboard-deck sales are dominated by Element(428), followed by Black Label (234), Birdhouse (188), World Industries (171),and Alien Workshop (150). Element continues to lead, while Birdhouse, WorldIndustries, and Shorty’s (148) are also consistent performers in the deckcategory.
Respondentsreport that skateboard-deck sales are dominated by pro models (44%), followedby logo/team decks (28%), blank/non-graphic decks (13%), and shop decks (11%).Another four percent of sales are attributed to longboards and othernonstandard skateboards.
Themost popular deck width is 7.75 inches.
Shops surveyed report that truck sales are dominatednationally by Independent (513), without exception. Other popular brandsinclude Venture (318), Tensor (315), Grind King (261), and Destructo (183).Truck brands have tended to be more consistent than brands in other categories,with Independent and Venture at the top of the chart. In the last year,however, Tensor seems to have been doing well for retailers, overtaking GrindKing and Destructo.
Wheel sales are dominated according to respondentsby Spitfire (685), without exception. Other popular brands include Pig (145),Powell (119), Ghetto Child (115), and Element (111). Spitfire has consistently ledthe wheel category, with Pig and Powell also in the top five. Ghetto Child hasbeen growing in the last year, and brands that have performed well in the deckcategory, like Element, World Industries (94), Birdhouse (44), and Black Label(43), also tend to have success with wheels.
Respondentsreport the most popular wheel size is 54 mm.
Respondentsreport that the Element (232) brand leads apparel sales, followed byShorty’s (196), Independent (113), World Industries (106), and Volcom(103). As with wheels, the apparel category seems heavily influenced by abrand’s strength in the deck category.
Respondentsreport that eS (223) leads the skateboard-shoe category, followed by DCShoe Co. (213), Globe (152), Osiris (137), and Etnies (131). Osiris and Globeare the newer names in the footwear top five, as eS and DC Shoe Co.continue to wrestle for the top spot.
Information from previous SKATE Biz Retailer Surveyswas published in our October 2000 issue (Volume 12 Number 2), which is archivedon our Web site at skatebiz.com.