While many resorts have not seen the record early season snowfall that they experienced last year, most resorts in the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest have been able to open early this year, and it appears that consumers are noticing. During the August through October pre-season period, chain and specialty store combined sales of SnowSports hardgoods, apparel, and accessories increased 11.0% to $386.4 million compared to $$349.5 million last year, according to SIA’s retail audit, conducted by the Leisure trends Group.

This year, for the first time, SIA has included Internet sales as an additional retail channel and this added an additional $69.5 million to the overall number, bringing total sales up to $456.0 million. This means on-line sales account for approximately 15.2% of the market. Chain store sales increased 6% to $76.2 million, accounting for roughly 16.7% of the total market. Specialty SnowSports retailers’ sales increased 11.7% to $309.7 million, and accounted for 67.9% of the total market.

Specialty retailers continue to see similar trends to last year, with system skis accounting for a larger portion of their Alpine equipment sales even as price points in this category are declining. Integrated ski system sales increased 25% to $21.7 million, out-selling flat skis by over $3 million. However, ski systems’ average selling price declined 3% during the period, while flat ski average selling prices increased 8%. This increase in prices was not enough to offset declining sales in the flat ski category, overall revenue generated by non-system skis fell 10%.

Fat skis are still selling better, with mid fat skis showing a mid-40% increase in sales and fat/super-fat ski sales more than doubling during the period. Carve skis are showing the opposite trend, with lower ASP’s driving sales down 2%. Twin-Tips also continued the same trend as last year, with sales jumping 22% during the pre-season. It is also clear that retailers have very clean inventories going into this season. Carry-over sales of last season’s skis fell 4% in units, but increased 5% in dollars, indicating that retailers have fewer close-outs selling at higher prices.

Telemark as a category is still growing, but not at the rate it was for the last two years. Total revenue generated by specialty retailers in the category only increased 3%, with ski sales increasing 15%, bindings up 10%, and boots growing 5%. In addition, the audit shows that SnowSports retailers are not supporting the category like they did in the past; inventories are down in the low-30% range. However AT/Randonee equipment continues to grow rapidly, with sales up 46%.

Snowboard equipment sales got off to a slow start this year, with sales declining 9%. All-mountain board sales increased 38% with a 13% higher ASP in the category. Freestyle board sales slipped 12% and Freeride boards fell 19%. Carry-over board sales increased 16% in units and 25% in dollars, while overall inventories remained flat to last year. Overall board sales declined 8%, while bindings fell 10% and boots declined 9%.

SIA SnowSports Retail Audit
 2006 August-October Specialty Store Results
(Select Equipment & Apparel Categories)
(in $ millions) 2006 2005 Change
Total $386.4 $349.5 11%
Equipment $116.1 $118.0 -2%
Alpine $75.3 $73.8 2%
Nordic $2.8 $2.9 -5%
Telemark $1.1 $1.0 3%
Randonee/AT $0.4 $0.3 46%
Snowboard $36.5 $40.0 -9%
Apparel $116.1 $88.0 32%
Alpine $99.3 $74.9 33%
Snowboard $16.7 $13.1 27%
Accessories $77.6 $71.1 9%