December started slow in the snow sports marketplace, but the onset of true winter conditions and good snow across more than 50 percent of the country brought acceleration in sales of equipment, apparel and accessories made for cold and snowy conditions, suggests the latest figures from SIA and Leisure Trends Group. Consumers spent more than $1B in the snow sports market in December alone, and sales for the season reached $2.1B – down 4 percent in units sold and down 3 percent in dollars sold compared to November when sales were down 8 percent in units sold and 7 percent in dollars sold.
“The arrival of winter will continue to spur sales in the snow sports market and all eyes are on recovery from last season’s difficulties brought on by lack of snow,” says the company. “In fact, snow covered 51 percent of the lower 48 on December 25th and sales picked up accordingly”
Despite the acceleration in sales late in December, inventories continued to weigh down retailers. On December 31st, specialty shop retailers had $951M worth of snow sports equipment, apparel and accessories in inventories, 3 percent higher than Dec. 31, 2011, says SIA.
Sales during the second half of the 2012/2013 season (January to March) typically bring in approximately 35 percent more dollars into the snow sports market for equipment, apparel and accessories. Increased snowfall and lower temperatures could help retailers clear out swollen inventories and allow for a full recovery from last season’s disappointing sales and participation.
As the market welcomes new snow, SIA notes several emerging trends:
- Twin tip ski sales (flat and systems combined) are up 2 percent in dollars sold to more than $45M and up 4 percent in units sold to 101,500 pairs of skis sold through Dec. 31.
- Sales of alpine/AT boots, alpine boots with a walk mode and rubber/Vibram sole designed for use with alpine touring bindings have more than doubled compared to last season. More than 41,000 alpine/AT boots were purchased between August 1 and December 31.
- Sales of lighter, more technical AT/Randonee boots are up 19 percent in units and 29 percent in dollars sold.
- Sales of skins, used on the bottoms of skis to prevent backwards sliding when traversing or sliding uphill, are up 10 percent in units sold and 9 percent in dollars sold.
- Splitboard sales, although still a small category with 2,300 units sold through December, are up 33 percent in units sold and up 19 percent in dollars sold.
- Action camera sales are soaring, up 14 percent in units to 69,500, and up 36 percent in dollars sold to $20M.