January Snow Sports Sales Reflect Weather Patterns

The snow sports retail market finished January up 4 percent in units sold and up 7 percent in dollars sold to $2.8 billion for all equipment, apparel and accessories, according to the latest figures from SIA and NDP Group. Snow Sports retailers brought in $178 million more dollars through January this season compared to August to January 2012/2013 despite weather conditions that disrupted snow sports retail markets.

Drought conditions in the Pacific West and record cold snaps (Polar Vortex) in the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and as far south as Baton Rouge, Louisiana had both positive and negative impacts on snow sports retail sales in January. In fact, compared to January 2013, sales in January 2014 were down 7 percent in equipment sales, down 12 percent in apparel sales, and up 10 percent in accessories sales.

“When the temperatures dip well below normal consumers who will never see a slope or a trail may head to snow sports retailer for gloves, hats, and apparel tops that will help them weather abnormally frigid temperatures,” said Kelly Davis, SIA director of research.

Leaner inventory levels are another key factor at work in the snow sports market this season, says SIA. Equipment inventories are 10 percent lower through January and apparel inventories are down 11 percent overall.

“Scarcity is healthy for the market,” Davis said. “Scarcity results in higher margins and diminishes the need for discounting in the middle of the season putting more money into retailers pockets and increasing open-to-buy budgets.”

Average retail prices are 2 percent higher in equipment, 6 percent higher in apparel, and 6 percent higher for accessories through January. Margins are up 3 percent in equipment, up 3 percent in apparel, and up 4 percent in accessories. This bodes well for February and March specialty sales.

Sales through All Channels:

Equipment Sales- $670M, up 4 percent in dollars sold and up 5 percent in units sold

Apparel Sales- $1.2B, up 3 percent in dollars sold and up 2 percent in units sold

Accessories Sales- $952M, up 14 percent in dollars sold up 10 percent in units sold

Notable Trends per SIA:

Alpine Touring/Randonee equipment continues to enjoy significant increases in sales, through January AT equipment sales increased 11% in dollars sold and 11% in units sold.

Sales are up again in alpine/AT hybrid boots 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. Sales of alpine/AT boots are up 21 percent in units sold to 68,000 units sold, and up 21 percent in dollars sold to $27M. Alpine/AT boots make up nearly 15 percent of dollars sold and 11 percent of units sold in the alpine boot market so far this season.

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Overall, sales of AT/Randonee equipment are up 11 percent in units sold and up 11 percent in dollars sold to $13M. AT boot sales are up 3 percent in units sold and 12 percent in dollars sold, and AT binding sales are up 15 percent in units sold to 18,700 units, and up 12 percent in dollars sold to $7M through January.

Women are getting prepped to hit the trails. Sales of women’s specific cross country equipment increased 37 percent in units sold and 32 percent in dollars sold to $4.8M through January. Overall, sales of cross country equipment were up 13 percent in both dollars and units sold.

More girls are getting snowboard equipment this year. Junior girls snowboarding equipment sales grew 21 percent in units sold and 22 percent in dollars sold through January. Overall, snowboard equipment sales are flat in dollars sold to $202M.

Backcountry accessories sales including beacons, probes and shovels increased 17 percent in dollars sold and 12 percent in units sold through January. Beacons led the way with a 16 percent increase in units sold to 15,630 units through January.

Sales of protective gear including pads, wrist guards, and general impact gear increased 19 percent in units sold and 27 percent in dollars sold to $3.2M through January.

Sales of action cameras were up 13 percent in units sold to 91,500 cameras and up 27 percent in dollars sold to $31M through January.

Davis said, “Action cameras may be the single most popular accessory in the snow sports market right now.”

Alpine insulated parka sales were up 19 percent in dollars sold to $309M and up 13 percent in units to 1.7M parkas sold between August 1, 2013 and January 31, 2014 in snow sports channels.

Sales of selected apparel accessories including mittens and gloves, baselayer, headwear, neck gaiters, and masks increased 16 percent in units sold and 14 percent in dollars sold to $373M through January.

Snowshoe sales are up 5 percent in units sold to 75K units and 6 percent in dollars to $11M sold through January. Snowshoe inventory levels are down more than 30 percent and various popular models may become very difficult to find later this season.