Monday, January 12, 2009

SIA reports first decline


The snow sports market contracted for the first time this season as recession-conscious holiday shoppers spent fewer dollars, according to the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Retail Audit. Overall, the snow sports market declined to $1.875 billion for August through December 2008, a 1.5% drop compared to the same period in 2007. Hardest hit was the alpine equipment category where current model ski sales were down 17% over last season.

The snowboard category declined 5% in boards, boots and bindings. Overall apparel was down 3%, but snowboard apparel, shell parkas and fleece sales remained strong. Accessories sales were up 4%, particularly hats, gloves, and wax purchased at resort shops.

The equipment category declined 4% in dollars overall with the deepest loss in alpine ski and equipment sold in chain stores. Alpine ski sales, particularly current year models, declined 17% over last season. Alpine boots and bindings sales were about even with last season sales and current year models are selling well. Snowboards, snowboard boots, and snowboard bindings sales declined 5% season over season. Nordic equipment sales declined 2% in dollars and 7%.

Apparel sales accounted for more than 40% of all dollars spent overall in the snow sports market. Fleece continues to be the big seller in the apparel market with $170 million in sales, which was flat compared to Aug-Dec sales last season. Adult shell parkas sales increased 5% season and snowboard apparel continued to sell well but increased just 1% compared to last season.

The Internet channel enjoyed strong growth in December, gaining 12% in dollars and 23% in units compared to August to December 2007. At this time last year, Internet sales were up 23%. Overall, consumers spent $376 million on snow sports equipment, apparel, and accessories online. Internet sales comprised 20% of all the dollars consumers spent on snow sports products in the U.S. between August 1 and December 31, 2008.

The specialty channel was hit hard by falling sales in December, declining 5% in dollars. Specialty shops were responsible for $1.1 billion of the $1.9 billion in total sales (includes specialty shops, chain stores, and online sales) for the snow sports marketplace August through December 2008. Specialty shops accounted for 76% of alpine equipment, 73% of Nordic gear, and 63% of all snowboard equipment was sold so far this season.

Chain stores’ equipment sales continue to sink with decreases of 16% in dollars and 14% in units. Alpine ski sales are down 20% and snowboard equipment sales decreased 18%. Chain stores equipment sales ($391 million) accounted for just 16% of all equipment sales in the U.S. snow sports marketplace from August to December. Apparel sales made up almost half of all chain store snow sports sales August through December 2008.

The market data for the SIA Retail Audit is provided by the Leisure Trends Group. Each season, Leisure Trends gathers data between August 1 and March 31 from a representative panel of more than 1,200 snow sports retailers who provide sales data directly from their Point of Sale systems. The panel and the method for extrapolating the results out to the entire industry is based on a triennial census of snow sports retailers designed to accurately define the size and structure of the snow sports retail marketplace.

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