Ski Equipment Sales Bright Spot In Overall Chain Store Sales


MCLEAN, Va. (SIA News Release April 17, 2003) Chain store sales were down 5.5 percent for August through February compared to the same period in 2002. In dollars, that translates to $439.4 million in sales so far this year compared to $465.2 million in 2002. The unit sales tracked 11.3 percent behind last year. Sales for the month of February in chain stores were down considerably from 2002, $67 million compared to $75 million, a difference of $8 million. According to Jim Spring of Leisure Trends Group, "Chain stores dominate sales in the West and the West has had a tough time this year." However, chain stores were helped by higher retail selling prices. The average retail shot up 6.5 percent from $36.28 in 2002 to $38.65 this season.

The SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. SIA is the not-for-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products. This is the fifth of six reports that will look at sales through March 31, 2003, the end of the winter season.

All equipment (alpine, snowboard and Nordic) for chain stores was up 10.9 percent to $134 million from $120.8 million in 2002. Alpine equipment (skis, boots, bindings and poles) was up 11.7 percent to $64.4 million as compared to $57.7 last year. Snowboard equipment (boards, boots and bindings) was a bright spot at chain stores; it was up 16.3 percent to $63.1 million in sales. Sales for snowboard equipment in 2002 tracked at $54.2 million. Nordic equipment (skis, boots, bindings and poles)was down 26.7 percent to $6.6 million.Both apparel and accessories were down in chain stores. Apparel was down 10.4 percent to $172.4 million as compared to $192.4 million last season while accessories declined 12.5 percent to $132.9 million as compared to 2002, which was $151.9 million.

Boots, poles and ski binding systems did the heavy lifting in the alpine ski equipment category. Alpine ski sales declined 5.3 percent in dollars to $22.4 million while units dropped 25.2 percent, excluding ski/binding systems. Carve ski sales dropped 75.2 percent. However, other specific categories are doing well. Midfat skis (up 30.7 percent), twin tip skis (up 234.6 percent), ski boards (up 55.3 percent) and junior skis (up 62.8 percent) all saw double digit gains in dollars. Ski binding systems, at an average retail of $439, grew over 400 percent in unit sales. Even with most categories posting large increases, overall alpine ski equipment took a hit due to a lack of carry-over (down 34.9 percent in dollars). The alpine equipment sales were driven by boots, which increased 21.4 percent in dollars to $23.9 million. Alpine boots had an average retail of $159 compared to specialty stores where they were selling an average of $258. All alpine boot categories saw increases in dollars over last season. High performance (up 46.9 percent), sport performance (up 32.1 percent), recreation (up 100 percent), soft boots (up 235.6 percent) and juniors (up 94 percent) all grew. The increase in dollars could be attributed to the lack of carry-over sales this season (down 44.9 percent in dollars).Bindings are tracking similar to skis. Units are down 19.4 percent while dollars were down 12.4 percent. Junior bindings are a hot product increasing 60.3 percent in dollars. Poles are up (30.8 percent) to $4 million. Snowboard equipment is still tracking ahead in chain stores. Snowboard sales in dollars were ahead 10.5 percent to $26.5 million; however, units were only tracking 2.0 percent ahead of last season. The two largest categories in terms of unit sales both saw significant gains in dollar sales this year. Freeride and all mountain snowboards gained 42.9 percent and 288.2 percent in dollars, respectively. Snowboard boots and bindings followed suit. Boots advanced 18.0 percent in dollars to $20.4 million while bindings tracked ahead 24.7 percent in ddollars to $16.4 million. Non step-in boots and bindings saw all the action, gaining 55.4 percent and 73.8 percent in dollars, respectively. As a result of increased sales, there is a lack of carry-over sales in boards, boots, and bindings.

Apparel tops declined 9.8 percent in dollars to $100.6 million; however, units gained 2.0 percent. The only category to be doing really well in apparel is juniors. Both junior insulated parkas and shell parkas gained in dollars, increasing 20.0 percent and 52.7 percent, respectively. "Overall consumers were looking for bargains this season in apparel, with the exception of new products ," said Julie Lynch, Director of Market Research for SIA. Soft shell parkas advanced 49.6 percent in dollars with an average retail price of $185. Carry-over apparel tops are selling really well in chain stores, up 72.2 percent in dollars to $15.1 million.Like tops, bottoms declined 7.1 percent in dollars to $37.9 million. Carry-over accounted for over 50 percent of all alpine bottom sales which was the only category to see increases in dollars besides soft shell waist pants. Soft shell waist pants grew 38.7 percent in dollars. The opposite was true in the snowboard apparel, lack of carry-over hurt this category. Snowboard apparel was down 13.6 percent in dollars to $31.8 million. Snowboard tops were slightly up (1.2 percent in dollars) while snowboard bottoms were down (5.5 percent in dollars).The only category to see any real action is women's snowboard bottoms, gaining 22.4 percent in dollars.

The accessories business was slow in chain stores this season. Equipment accessories were down 9.5 percent to $52.9 million. The hottest seller in chain stores this season has been the snowdecks/skate, gaining 71.9 percent in dollars and 143.4 percent in units. The only other category to see any growth was sunglasses, up 27.9 percent in dollars. Apparel accessories had a tough time of it also. This category was down even more at 14.4 percent to $80 million. No apparel accessory classes advanced. This performance follows a poor 2002 season when all accessories were down 9 percent in dollars at the end of February.