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B$Z: Snow Sports Equipment Sales Take Off in the Pre-Season

December 11, 2010

Snow Sports Equipment Sales Take Off in the Pre-Season

The 2010/2011 snow sports season is underway and equipment and equipment accessories sales increased through October while apparel and apparel accessories sales lagged.  Overall, sales from August to October 2010 match sales for the same period last year with a 1% increase in dollars, but 5% fewer units sold.  Apparel sales are down 6% in dollars and in units.  The slump in apparel sales may be due to continuing economic concerns, difficulty shipping goods from production facilities in China, and warmer weather through October.  Alpine equipment sales are up 8% in units and 16% in dollars sold.  Carryover sales are down across all categories, as retailers started the season with leaner inventories.   Snow sports specialty shops enjoyed strong equipment sales and an overall increase of 3% in dollars sold.  Online sales have finally leveled off after four seasons of vast increases in sales, and chain stores sales are down 14% in units and 5% in dollars sold through October.  November weather surpassed expectations for snow across the country and snow sports sales are highly correlated with snowfall.  SIA will release November data on January 5, 2011. 

“Sales are going very well, with an earlier than usual start to the season, and so far we are achieving, our goals for November, which are aggressive.” - Spike Clayton, Ski Rack, VT

Quick Trends

  • Women are buying ski systems – Women’s specific ski systems are up 27% through October and 86% of women’s systems sold have waist widths of 70-79mm.  Women purchased 16,800 systems and 7,100 flat skis so far this season.
  • Alpine equipment sales are at a 10 year high, so far this season, in units and dollars sold (see chart below).
  • AT/Randonee equipment – Sales increased 55% in dollars and 62% in units through October
  • Goggles sales soaring – Sales are up 32% in dollars sold and 23% in units sold.
  • Insulated apparel – October was significantly warmer this year and may be to blame for a 5% decrease in units and dollars sold.
  • Reverse camber snowboards – Rocker boards now make up 55% of all snowboards sold.
  • Cross country boots up – Cross country ski boot sales increased 17% in units sold.

Source:  SIA Snow Sports RetailTRAK™ by Leisure Trends Group

Sales by Region - In Specialty stores where sales are tracked in 4 distinct regions (Northeast, Midwest, South and West) a 21% boost in the West, the largest region as well as a 3% increase in the South contributed to a strong Specialty channel while sales fell 8% and 10% in the Northeast and Midwest respectively. 


Snow Sports Specialty, $284 million – Down 2% in units and up 3% in dollars

Alpine ski equipment sales soared in the pre-season with a 12% increase in units sold and 20% increase in dollars sold.  Adult twin tip ski sales are up 37% in units and 45% in dollars sold to $1.8 million.  Snowboard equipment sales decreased 4% in units but higher average prices but due to a decrease in the sales of carryover equipment prices of snowboard equipment led to an increase of 2% in dollars sold.    Cross country equipment sales are up 24% in units and 18% in dollars sold and AT/Randonee sales remain small at 2,600 units total, but sales are up more than 100% in units and in dollars sold.  Apparel sales suffered in specialty shops through October as warm temperatures and a sputtering economy did little to spur sales of parkas, suits and snowboard apparel; apparel unit sales and dollar sales fell 7.5% in specialty shops.  Accessories sales results varied with stellar results for goggles and backcountry, but sharp decreases in sales of gloves and hats.

Internet, $162 million – Down 5% units and down 1% in dollars

The Internet channel finally leveled off after 5 seasons of notable expansion in the channel.  Equipment enjoyed 9% growth in dollars sold, while apparel sales fell 9% in units and 6% in dollars sold.  Keep in mind that a portion of the downturn in apparel sales during this period may be due to difficulty getting goods shipped from production facilities in China into U.S. retail channels.  Accessories sales were up 3% in dollars largely due to strong sales of goggles, auto racks, and backcountry accessories including shovels, beacons and probes.  Internet sales include sales through “clicks only” establishments that have no brick and mortar shop for customers to visit. It’s all online as well as online sales in shops with a brick and mortar location and a commerce enabled website for their customers.  Many of the sales reported come from brick and mortar establishments that are reaching customers online and in the shop. 

Chain Stores, $76 million – Down 14% in units and down 5% in dollars

Chain store sales are down in in equipment, apparel and accessories through October this season.  Chain stores sell far less equipment than specialty or online sales channels.  Fewer than 7% of  skis, 15% of snowboards, 3% of Cross Country skis sold in snow sports sales channels were sold in chain stores through October. Apparel didn’t fare much better with a 6% decrease in units and dollars sold so far this season.  Some accessories performed well in chain stores including goggles, helmets, wax and sunglasses. 
The market data presented in this report comes from the SIA Retail Audit, conducted by the Leisure Trends Group.   The Retail Audit data is gathered directly from the Point of Sale systems of about 1/3 of the snow sports retailers in the U.S. market.  Each season, Leisure Trends gathers snow sports sales data 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.  SIA maintains these data for members down to the product level.  For more information about SIA’s Retail Audit information please contact Kelly Davis, SIA’s Director of Research at [email protected].