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Transworld Business Surf Hardgoods Retail Survey: Part 1

Beginning in November and running through December, Transworld Business surveyed 185 leading surfboard retailers from around the county in order to present an accurate report on the state of the surf hardgoods market. Every shop we contacted is a reputable surf hardgoods dealer with extensive experience in the marketplace. There is much more data than can compressed into one post, so stay tuned to Transworldbusiness.com over the next few weeks for up-coming installments from our comprehensive assessment of the surf hardgoods market.

Surfboard retailers and manufacturers have not been impervious to the current economic climate, and the results of the Transworld Business Surf Hardgoods Retail Survey reflect that. While retailers generally agree that inventory issues that arose in the wake of Clark Foam’s closure are beginning to be resolved, most say they have a new set of challenges due to the current economic crisis.

When asked to describe the overall state of the surf hardgoods market, nearly 95-percent of retailers polled responded either flat (43-percent), down (44-percent), or way down (8-percent).

In this first installment, we’re breaking down what the leading surfboard retailers in the U.S. are stocking their boardrooms with by category, and how those categories are trending in their stores.

First we asked retailers to break down their surfboard inventory into six categories. According to the results, roughly 47-percent of the overall surfboard inventory from shops surveyed is dedicated to tri-fin surfboards, followed by longboards (25-percent), and funboards (16-percent).

What Percentage Of Your Surfboard Inventory Is Devoted To:

OVERALL (represents 100% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 46.9%
-Quad (Four Fin): 4.1%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 3.7%
-Funboards: 16.4%
-Longboards: 25.1%
-Stand-Up: 3.8%

Break Down By Region (click map to enlarge):

CALIFORNIA (represents 38% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 47.9%
-Quad (Four Fin): 2.1%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 3.1%
-Funboards: 14.5%
-Longboards: 27.4%
-Stand-Up: 2.7%
-Other: 2.3%

MID-ATLANTIC (represents 21% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 50.5%
-Quad (Four Fin): 3.0%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 1.0%
-Funboards: 19.7%
-Longboards: 23.3%
-Stand-Up: 2.6%

FLORIDA (represents 17% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 56.7%
-Quad (Four Fin): 1.7%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 1.0%
-Funboards: 17.1%
-Longboards: 14.3%
-Stand-Up: 5.7%

NORTH EAST (represents 15% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 44.5%
-Quad (Four Fin): 5.8%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 4.8%
-Funboards: 18.5%
-Longboards: 20.9%
-Stand-Up: 5.6%

NORTH WEST (represents 4% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 25.3%
-Quad (Four Fin): 4.0%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 4.8%
-Funboards: 20.2%
-Longboards: 44.8%
-Stand-Up: 0.7%
-Other: 0.2%

HAWAII (represents 3% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 54.4%
-Quad (Four Fin): 13.4%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 0.4%
-Funboards: 10.9%
-Longboards: 21.4%
-Stand-Up: 1.4%
-Other: 0.4%

MID WEST (represents 1% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 20%
-Quad (Four Fin): 0%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: )%
-Funboards: 5%
-Longboards: 70%
-Stand-Up: 5%

TEXAS (represents 1% of total stores surveyed)

-Thruster (Tri fin): 25%
-Quad (Four Fin): 0%
-Twin Fin/ Fish: 25%
-Funboards: 25%
-Longboards: 25%
-Stand-Up: 0%

Next we asked retailers to rank the current demand trend for the same categories of surfboards. Here are the overall results. What’s interesting about this data is that more than 90-percent of retailers reported that tri-fin sales ranged from flat to way down. Boards featuring four fins (quads) are performing even worse according to the survey. Of the 185 retail locations polled, more than 93-percent described quad sales as either flat (28-percent), down (55-percent), or way down (10-percent). Twin fins, funboards, longboards, and stand-up paddle boards all had similar results.

THRUSTER (Tri-Fin)

-Way Up: 0%
-Up: 9%
-Flat: 41%
-Down: 40%
-Way Down: 10%

QUAD (Four Fin)

-Way Up: 0%
-Up: 7%
-Flat: 28%
-Down: 55%
-Way Down: 10%

TWIN FIN/ FISH

-Way Up: 0%
-Up: 7%
-Flat: 28%
-Down: 55%
-Way Down: 10%

FUNBOARDS

-Way Up: 0%
-Up: 9%
-Flat: 28%
-Down: 53%
-Way Down: 10%

LONGBOARDS

-Way Up: 0%
-Up: 5%
-Flat: 29%
-Down: 55%
-Way Down: 11%

Stand-Up Paddle

-Way Up: 0%
-Up: 5%
-Flat: 29%
-Down: 55%
-Way Down: 11%

When asked about sales trends by length, shortboards (7’0” or smaller) fared slightly better than mid-length (7’0” – 8’11”), or longboards (9’0” +). Ten-percent of retailers surveyed say shortboard sales are either up or way up, compared to mid-length and longboards. While mid-length boards slightly outperformed longboards, the results were almost identical for each category.

This is merely the beginning of the information gathered in the Transworld Business Surf Hardgoods Retail Survey, so check back for updates.