Winter sports sales rose 12% in units and 10% in dollars to $520 million for the season-to-date period from August through October compared to the same period in 2008, according to the latest Retail Audit Report from SnowSports Industries America. 

All sales channels grew in 2009. In a sign that tighter management of inventories has put a damper on close-out product opportunities, sales of carryover equipment were down from record levels last season.  The carryover business still accounted for about one-quarter of all ski and snowboard equipment sold during the period.

Apparel sales were up 13% overall to $242 million, with very strong growth in insulated parkas, apparel suits, and snowboard apparel. Helmets, snowshoes and winter boots enjoyed sales growth over 20% in dollars with winter boots topping out at a 42% increase in dollar sales.
Accessory sales as a whole have increased from last year, said Tracy Gibbons, co-owner of Sturtevant's, Bellevue, WA. Wider skis continue to make a statement and binding sales, especially with wide brakes, are following along with this trend.  Kids product sales are also very strong in all categories. 

Alpine ski equipment sales results were flat, with a 4% decrease in units sold offset by a 1% increase in dollars sold. Carryover dollar sales of alpine equipment fell 5% for skis, 19% for boots and 26% for bindings. Snowboard equipment sales were down 11%, while snowboard carryover sales increased 19%. Inventories in specialty shops were about 9% lower overall compared to 2008 levels at the end of October.


Inventory reduction results included a 13% reduction in alpine equipment inventory, an 8% reduction in snowboard equipment inventories, and an 8% reduction in apparel inventory units.
The Internet channel grew to capture 31% of the snow sports market. Sales were up 28% in units and 26% in dollars compared to August to October 2008. Equipment enjoyed 10% growth in dollars sold, while apparel and accessories sales grew more than 30% in dollars sold.                    


Many of the sales reported come from brick and mortar establishments that are reaching customers online and in the shop.                                      

Chain store sales were driven primarily by apparel and accessory sales. Apparel sales increased 3%, led by carryover apparel goods that were up more than 20% compared to August through October 2008. The data indicate that chain stores discounted heavily to get customers through the doors.