According to SIA’s RetailTRACK numbers for August 2013 through March 2014 point of sale purchases are up 4% in units sold and 7% in dollars. $3.6 billion in sales were recorded from 1200 snowsports retailers.

 

“This season was defined by extraordinary weather patterns that included severe drought in the Sierras, polar vortex events that brought arctic cold as far south as Texas and truly excellent snow conditions in the Rocky Mountains,” said Kelly Davis, SIA director of research. 

Overall, retail sales were healthy and the season ended with increases in dollars sold, units sold, sell-through, margins, and significantly cleaner inventories. This bodes well for sell-in to the 2014/2015 season and the overall health of retail establishments across the snow sports market.

Overall Snow Sports Market Sales through All Channels August through March 31, 2014

  • Equipment: $867 million, up 1 percent in units sold and up 2 percent in dollars sold
  • Apparel: $1.5 billion, down 2 percent in units sold and up 4 percent in dollars sold
  • Accessories $1.3 billion, up 7 percent in units sold and up 14 percent in dollars sold

Retail sales have a new benchmark this season at $3.6 billion driven by record sales of apparel and accessories. Equipment sales were the highest the market has seen since 2010/2011 when $913 million in snow sports hard goods were sold. Keep in mind that 2010/2011 was one of the best years for snow North America has experienced in the past decade.

 

Specialty shops finished the season up 7 percent in dollars compared to last season, and had the best sales season since the epic 2010/2011 season. Equipment sales were back up (to $619 million) after sliding for two seasons, but it was record sales of accessories that truly buoyed the specialty channel. In fact, accessories sales accounted for more than 3/4 of the increase in specialty shop sales this season. Snow sports specialty shops sold $736 million in accessories compared to $630 million last season. Goggles, backcountry accessories, gloves and baselayer sales hit record highs.

Chain store sales finished the season up 4 percent in dollars sold to $745 million driven by an increase of $18 million in apparel sales and a $13 million increase in accessories sales. Chain stores are selling less equipment every season and sales reflect the tactic; equipment sales in chain stores was down 4 percent to just $59 million, just 7 percent of total equipment sales in the snow sports market this season.

Online sales were up across the board with accessories gains leading the way with a 15 percent increase in dollars sold to $254 million. Online apparel sales increased 3 percent to $424 million, and equipment sales grew 8 percent in dollars sold to $189 million. The Internet market is more than just close out gear; average prices online were up 8 percent overall this season.

Notable Trends

  • Alpine Touring/Randonee equipment sales increased 8 percent in dollars sold and 8 percent in units sold. Lack of snow in the Sierras likely stalled backcountry equipment sales in California, which houses many of the popular areas for backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

  • Sales of Alpine/AT boots, defined as alpine DIN boots that can be converted to an AT/Touring sole for Backcountry use, may be one of hottest items in the alpine market. Sales of alpine/AT boots are up 27 percent in units sold to 93,000 units sold, and up 21 percent in dollars sold to $37 million. Alpine/AT boots make up nearly 16 percent of dollars sold and 12 percent of units sold in the alpine boot market so far this season.

  • Women are getting prepped to hit the trails. Sales of women’s specific cross country equipment increased 32 percent in units sold and 28 percent in dollars sold to over $6 million. Overall, Nordic equipment sales bounced back this season and finished up 15 percent in units sold and up 14 percent in dollars sold to $41 million.

  • More girls bought snowboard equipment this year; junior girls snowboarding equipment sales grew 37 percent in units sold and 36 percent in dollars sold. Overall, snowboard equipment sales are flat in dollars sold to $256 million.

  • Backcountry accessories sales including beacons, probes and shovels increased 12 percent in units and dollars sold.

  • Sales of protective gear including pads, wrist guards and general impact gear increased 16 percent in units sold and 24 percent in dollars sold. Higher demand means sales at higher prices and higher margins. In fact, margins on protective gear increased 28 percent from 42.6 percent in 2012/2013 to 54.5 percent in 2013/2014.

  • Action cameras continue to be the single most popular accessory in the snow sports market right now. Sales of action cameras were up 10 percent in units sold to 121,000 cameras and up 20 percent in dollars sold to $41 million. Over 30 percent of action camera sales in snow sports channels were made in specialty shops.

  • Alpine insulated tops sales were up 13 percent in dollars sold to $529 million and up 8 percent in units to more than 3 million units sold.

  • Apparel accessories including gloves, baselayer, headwear, neck gaiters, etc. increased 7 percent in units sold and 11 percent in dollars sold to $664 million.
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Conclusion

Snow sports sales were healthy through the 2013/2014 winter, but drought conditions in California dragged on the market throughout the season. Record cold temperatures in the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and even the in the Deep South drove apparel accessories sales higher. Snow and cold temperatures explain about 3/4 of the variance in snow sports sales season to season. The job market, gas prices and other variables do little to explain overall trends in the snow sports market.

Overall, the snow sports market has more than 19 million participants in skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, telemark and alpine touring. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are already noting a heightened possibility for El Niño conditions during the 2014/2015 winter. Although it is far too early to make serious predictions, that would bode well for the drought-stricken Sierras.

“This season, we projected that consumers would spend more than $3.5M on equipment, apparel and accessories in the snow sports market,” Davis said. “Actually, snow sports consumers purchased more than $3.6B at retail this season.”

SIA releases the top line results for snow sports retail seven times each season from November to May covering results of retail sales made between August 1 and March 31 each season. Topline/category retail sales data for the snow sports market is available as a member benefit to all SIA members. In addition, you gain free access to topline data for the Running, Outdoor and Paddle

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