Snowboard Sales Strong In February

McLEAN, VA (April 16, 2001) — Steady sales of snow sports products including all snowboard equipment categories through February pushed the industry past the $2 billion mark with one more month of selling to go in the season. Sales of all winter sports products at all stores through the end of February were $2.044 billion, reports SnowSports Industries America, the non-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products.

This is the first time SIA has released a Retail Audit report in February, so there are no comparisons with last year.

The brisk sales in the snow sports products industry was in contrast to climate at retail nationally. Many merchants, including the big department stores and apparel chains, saw sales languish because of weak consumer spending. Sears, Roebuck and Co. had a decline of 2 percent in February sales, while JC Penney reported a 2.1 percent decline, The Gap registered an 11 percent drop in sales. Target sales were up a meager 1.5 percent in February, while Wal-Mart had a 4.3 percent gain and Kmart a 3.3 percent gain.

“All-store sales through the end of February were $2 billion, with specialty stores racking up $1.55 billion and chain stores $491 million for the season so far,” said Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, the research firm that prepares the annual Retail Audit for SIA. “Retailers took delivery of equipment, apparel and accessories during February. Generally inventories, which sit at around the 30 percent level with one month of selling to go, are inflated by late season deliveries.”

The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories for the August 1 through March 31 selling season. This is the fifth of six reports that will look at snow sports equipment sales through March 31, the end of the winter season. Retail Audit reports covering apparel and accessories will be released separately.

Specialty Stores Equipment Sales Brisk

All sales at specialty stores were $1.55 billion for the season. In equipment only, specialty store sales were $630 million. In specific categories: alpine equipment had sales of $440 million; snowboard equipment $166 million; and Nordic equipment $24 million.

Alpine ski sales through February were $196 million. Mid-fat skis continued to sell with sales of $74 million. Twintip skis sales were $6 million.

“We saw a new direction this year,” said Brandon Trent, manager of Lombard Sports in San Francisco. “People got new skis last year or two years ago, now they need a new pair of boots. Eighty percent of the people who came in here wanted boots. I had people who still had their boots from high school. They were ready to update.”

Alpine boot sales through February were $162 million. Adult high performance boots led the way with $74million in sales. Sales of bindings were $67 million and pole sales $15 million.

“The average price for alpine equipment went up as retailers raised their “on-sale” flags,” said Spring. “More expensive carver and mid-fat skis sold the best. Sport boots outsold high performance in units but in dollars, high performance sales were $12 million compared to $10 million for sport boots (in February).”

“Boots consistently move for us,” said Curt Clauson, manager of Wildernest Sports, Teton Village, WY. “We specialize in fitting and our footbed sales do really well. The problem was we couldn’t get boots after our initial shipments. There were just pockets of them left at mid-season.”

Snowboard sales for the period were $78 million; snowboard boots $51 million and snowboard bindings $37 million. “Our snowboard stuff is consistent all the time,” said Trent. “This year we’ve seen a lot more women, and we ordered more stuff made for women. Manufacturers realize that there are now enough women into snowboarding to make a market.”

“Through February, snowboard equipment registered 26 percent of all snow sport equipment sales,” said Spring. “The average retail price was $183 compared to alpine at $193 and Nordic at $76.”

Nordic ski and boot sales were each $9 million; bindings came in at $4 million; and Nordic poles at $3 million.

Chain Stores Score

All sales at chain stores were $491 million. “Normally, February is the change-over month for snow sports merchandise in chain stores,” said Spring. “This February, they sold $78 million of snow sports merchandise indicating that other spring lines will get off to a slow start in the big boxes.”

In the categories: alpine equipment sales were $71 million; snowboard gear $56 million; and Nordic equipment $8 million.

Alpine ski sales at the chains came in at $30 million. Alpine boot sales recorded $26 million in sales. Bindings sold $12 million and poles $3 million. “Alpine equipment represented 19 percent of sales and snowboard 12 percent (at chains),” said Spring. “Carver skis, at $174, outsold mid-fats, at $254, two-to-one in February.”

Snowboard sales at chain stores topped out at $28 million; snowboard boots $18 million; and snowboard bindings $9 million. “Board prices jumped from $177 in January to $188 in February,” said Spring.

In Nordic sales, skis and boots were $3 million; bindings $1 million; and poles $743,000.