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Winter Sports Retailers Take Pragmatic Yet Optimistic Approach to Upcoming Season

09/14/2012

By: Leisure Trends Group
September 14, 2012

Retail Survey Reveals Lower Preseason Orders Combined with Positive Outlook

Boulder, CO (September, 13, 2012) With new snow dusting the Rockies and Labor Day weekend sales now behind us, focus is quickly turning to the upcoming winter sports selling season.  Results of a new retail survey conducted by Leisure Trends Group reveal the fallout from last season’s “winter that wasn’t,” but no panic in the retail community.  Faced with an overabundance of leftover inventory, retailers reduced preseason orders sharply.  However, they remain optimistic about the upcoming season and are trying to hold prices as they sell through their existing stocks.

Drawn from a sample of 44 responses among outdoor and winter sports retailers*, the survey shows the impact of leftover inventory from the 2011/2012 season.  Sixty-four percent of responding retailers report decreasing their preseason orders compared to last season, with 20% dropping them by 26% or more.  “Given last winter’s poor sales and mounting inventory levels as the warm, dry winter wore on, this drop was expected,” states Jim Kelley, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Leisure Trends Group.  “The key question is whether there will be enough product to meet demand if more normal snowfall and cold temperatures return.”

Overall, retailers are optimistic about the upcoming season with over 70% indicating that they expect sales to be better this year than last.  While this may not seem like a stretch given last year’s anemic performance, 50% of responding retailers report Labor Day weekend sales above last year’s levels with only 26% reporting lower sales.  This early season comparison is important as it takes place before the impact of warm temperatures and little snow was felt last winter.

Just as importantly, retailers are holding prices on carryover inventory rather than dumping it at deeply discounted prices.  For their Labor Day weekend sales, the majority of retailers report pricing carryover inventory about the same as it was priced last Labor Day weekend.

On a cautionary note, Kelley warns that the reduced preseason orders could lead to inventory shortages should Mother Nature deliver this winter. “That’s why we’re not seeing deep discounting early in the season.  With preseason orders down, retailers know at-once deliveries will be limited.  They want healthy margins and enough product to carry them through the season.  With the right balance, they can put themselves in position to move past the struggles of last year and place strong buys moving forward.”

* Results drawn from a base of 44 respondents should be considered directional in nature

About Leisure Trends Group – Founded in 1989,  LTG is the leading provider of consumer research, retail market intelligence (retail sales tracking) and integrated CRM/Direct Marketing services for the sports, recreation, hospitality, travel and entertainment industries. Suppliers, retailers, associations, resorts and financial analysts rely on Leisure Trends Group for actionable consumer insights, accurate retail sales data that includes margins and inventory, and innovative targeted marketing solutions. Leisure Trends Group is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. For more information, contact Julia Day, 303-786-7900 x107/ info@leisuretrends.com or visit www.leisuretrends.com.