SIA Newsletter

Snow Sports Market Finishes the Season with $3.6B in Sales

SnowSports Industries America (SIA), the snow sports industry’s member-owned trade association,and Leisure Trends, an NPD Group Company have released SIA RetailTRAK™ numbers for August through March 2014. Total market projections are based on data collected from the Point of Sale systems from more than 1,200 snow sports retailers.

The snow sports retail market finished the 2013/2014 season with $3.6 billion in sales, up 4% in units sold and up 7% in dollars sold compared to the 2012/2013 season. 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.

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 2% in dollars sold, up 1% in units sold
  • Apparel: $1.5 billion – up 4% in dollars sold, down 2% in units sold
  • Accessories $1.3 billion – up 14% in dollars sold, up 7% in units 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.

Regional Sales

Winter weather has a strong impact on how sales do in a given region. For example, the West accounted for the most unit sales and brought in the most money during the 2013/2014 season, but saw the least amount of growth due to severe drought and delayed snow until much later in the season. Categories that did see growth this season include Nordic equipment (up 33% units, up 26% dollars), AT equipment (up 5% units, up 9% dollars), snowboard apparel (up 4% units and dollars) and accessories (up 6% units, up 21% dollars).

The Northeast came in number two for overall sales this winter after experiencing much colder than normal temperatures, especially early on in 2014; up 12% in units and 9% in dollars. Apparel accessories (up 22% in units, up 25% in dollars) and equipment accessories (up 17% in units, up 19% in dollars) had a great season in the Northeast, with the majority of the growth coming from handwear, socks, baselayer and headwear. Snowshoes, goggles and helmets also had a very strong season in this region.

The Midwest had a record-breaking season for snowfall in many areas and one of the categories that benefitted from that was Nordic equipment, finishing the season up 39% in units and 32% in dollars to over $9 million. It is no surprise that the Midwest had a solid Nordic season with 27% of all cross country skiers living in this region. To keep people warm, apparel accessories (up 18% in units, up 24% in dollars) also had a great year with handwear, footwear, socks and headwear coming out on top of that category.

The South welcomed cold weather this winter that they are not familiar with, so it’s no surprise that accessories did well in this region. Alpine equipment and alpine apparel also finished the season on a high note; although it’s a small category in the South, Nordic had the most impressive growth, up 102% in units and 87% in dollars.

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Specialty shops finished the season up 7% 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 ¾ 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% 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% to just $59 million, just 7% 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% increase in dollars sold to $254 million. Online apparel sales increased 3% to $424 million, and equipment sales grew 8% in dollars sold to $189 million. The Internet market is more than just close out gear; average prices online were up 8% overall this season.

Notable Trends

  • Alpine Touring/Randonee equipment sales increased 8% in dollars sold and 8% 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% in units sold to 93,000 units sold, and up 21% in dollars sold to $37 million. Alpine/AT boots make up nearly 16% of dollars sold and 12% of units sold in the alpine boot market so far this season.  Alpine/AT hybrid boots are defined as alpine DIN boots with a walk/ski mode that can be converted (but many consumers never do convert them) to an AT/Touring sole for backcountry. These boots are categorized separately from boots sold in the AT category; AT boots that are sold with backcountry blocks and are used most often in backcountry terrain are categorized separately from alpine equipment.
  • Women are getting prepped to hit the trails. Sales of women’s specific cross country equipment increased 32% in units sold and 28% in dollars sold to over $6 million. Overall, Nordic equipment sales bounced back this season and finished up 15% in units sold and up 14% in dollars sold to $41 million.
  • More girls bought snowboard equipment this year; junior girls snowboarding equipment sales grew 37% in units sold and 36% 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% in units and dollars sold.
  • Sales of protective gear including pads, wrist guards and general impact gear increased 16% in units sold and 24% in dollars sold. Higher demand means sales at higher prices and higher margins. In fact, margins on protective gear increased 28% from 42.6% in 2012/2013 to 54.5% 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% in units sold to 121,000 cameras and up 20% in dollars sold to $41 million. Over 30% of action camera sales in snow sports channels were made in specialty shops.
  • Alpine insulated tops sales were up 13% in dollars sold to $529 million and up 8% in units to more than 3 million units sold.
  • Apparel accessories including gloves, baselayer, headwear, neck gaiters, etc. increased 7% in units sold and 11% in dollars sold to $664 million.

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 ¾ 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. Actually, snow sports consumers purchased more than $3.6B at retail this season.

For more information about snow sports research and market intelligence products including retail, wholesale, consumer, participation and special reports, please contact Kelly Davis, SIA’s Director of Research at KDavis@snowsports.org or visit snowsports.org/research.

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 Sports when you register. The topline data is accessible on a 24/7/365 basis on Leisure Trends Cross-Industry RetailTRAK™ data portal. Non-SIA members may subscribe to the topline portal for just $375 per year.

SIA RetailTRAK™ Data 2013/2014 Season Release Schedule

  1. November 7, 2013: August – September
  2. December 7, 2013: August – October
  3. January 5, 2014: August – November
  4. January 31, 2014: August – December
  5. March 5, 2014: August – January
  6. April 5, 2014: August – February
  7. May 6, 2014: August – March