Early 2017/2018 season sales for the U.S. snow sports market were off to a great start; however, a lack of snow caused December sales to fall short, according to global information company The NPD Group. Dollar sales grew 8 percent from August through November 2017 compared to the prior year, but a 6 percent decline in December slowed the season-to-date’s growth rate down to 1 percent. Thus far, the snow industry generated $3.9 billion in retail sales during these collective five months.
“While the nation’s winter weather has, for the most part, been uncooperative for snow sports enthusiasts, the season began with excited consumers purchasing their gear early in anticipation of snow. Their optimism combined with retailers marking down the prior year’s product to sell in the beginning of the season likely spurred the early season growth,” said Matt Powell, Senior Industry Advisor, Sports, The NPD Group.
The alpine ski equipment category and the snow specialty retailers, where the majority of downhill equipment is purchased, have emerged as the winners of the snow season so far this year. Across the four pillar supercategories of accessories, apparel, equipment, and footwear, equipment sales fared the best (+3 percent), with alpine ski equipment (+6 percent) leading the sales gains. Alpine boots, bindings, and skis all grew. Snowboard equipment sales grew by 1 percent, driven by an increase in boot sales. Across the snow retail channels tracked by NPD, snow specialty stores captured the bulk of equipment sales and experienced growth of 5 percent.
“Unpredictable weather does not have to be a complete hindrance to the snow sports industry. There’s something to be said for placing greater emphasis around selling early (pre-season) and selling late (post-season), to get around the weather and assure avid, eager consumers that when Mother Nature is ready they will be, too,” said Powell. “With January and February data yet to be reported, and time still remaining to hit the slopes, there is still an opportunity for the snow market to regain some momentum to close out the season.”
Table: The NPD Group / U.S. Retail Tracking Service/ August-December 2017; Sales gathered from the snow chain, snow specialty, and snow internet retail channels