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Preliminary SIA RetailTRAK™ data, provided by Leisure Trends Group, points to another extremely healthy sales month in January for the snow sports retail market.  Comparing January 2011 with January 2010, sales jumped approximately 17% across all sales channels including chain stores, online retail, and specialty shops.  Season to date, sales in the snow sports market are up to $2.6B, a full 16% higher than last season at this time and well above Aug – Jan in both the 2008/2009 and 2007/2008 seasons. Snow sport retailers comfortably outpaced general retail this month, which was up 8.3% over January 2010, according to the US Census Bureau.

January 2011’s strong sales occurred in a month which, despite several large winter storms across the country, actually ranked 9 driest on record.  However, the colder than average temperatures across the country kept consumer demand for winter-related products high.  Especially strong growth came out of insulated jackets, fleece jackets and cold-weather accessories such as gloves, hats, base layer and socks.

 Sales at snowsport retail are expected to maintain an upward trajectory in 2011.  While weather certainly plays a role, it is not the only factor influencing growth in the snow sports industry.  The consumers that shop at specialty and core snow sport retail are more likely to be peer leaders, trend setters and core enthusiasts; they are passionate about what they do, and that passion encourages spending.   “These consumers are more likely to make room in their budget to support the things that they love to do,” explains LTG retail analyst Elisabeth Stahura, “even if it means cutting back in other areas.  The fact that snow sport retailers outperformed general retail is evidence of this.

 “I love to ski!  We have pre-invested in lodging and ski passes in Vail Colorado for the upcoming season… We will just spend less on food.”  – Most Active American – MAAP Panel member

 The improved retail sales numbers are also supported by consumer opinion.  A recent poll of Leisure Trends Group’s Most Active Americans™ consumer panel found that over half (51%) of the respondents plan to spend the same amount this year on sports, recreation and fitness products and services as in 2010 while a full 30% plan to spend “More” or “Much More”. Only 17% plan to spend “Less” or “Much Less” in 2011.