Skate/surf equipment, apparel, and footwear lead sales.
Aliso Viejo, Calif. (June 5, 2013) – The U.S. surf/skate industry saw $6.07 Billion in retail sales for all channels in 2012. Results from the 2012 Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA)
Specialty Retail Distribution Study, a third-party research study conducted by the Leisure Trends Group (LTG) and commissioned by SIMA, show core product categories holding strong as specialty retailers remain optimistic about the future.
The 2012 SIMA Specialty Retail Distribution Study focuses on a detailed look at the core surf and skate specialty retail market. This core channel captured $1.46 Billion in sales in 2012, with
specialty retailers driving surf and skate sales across the country.
“The overall goal of the 2012 SIMA Specialty Retail Distribution Study is to present a multidimensional
picture of the U.S. surf/skate retail industry, individually and collectively, so that
SIMA member companies can objectively evaluate their categories, develop strategies for future
sales and product development, and understand where opportunities exist,” said Doug Palladini,
SIMA President and Vice President & General Manager, Americas, for Vans. “We pushed the
reset button this year with the study to better refine the methodology used in qualifying surveyed
stores, so the 2012 study will serve as a new benchmark for future studies as SIMA continues to
strive to be an important source of trending data for its members. Conducting industry research
is one of the most valuable roles of a trade association, and we encourage our members to
utilize SIMA’s reports in their businesses.”
While the release of the 2012 SIMA Specialty Retail Distribution Study marks the publication of
SIMA’s fifth report, a slight change in the methodology this year precludes comparisons and
trending between the 2012 report and previous studies. The change in methodology was made
to better focus on the core specialty channel exclusively, raising the threshold of surf/skate
sales for independent retailers and eliminating chain stores from the survey. To qualify for the
study in 2012, all stores had to have at least 50% of their overall operation’s sales come from
surf and/or skate products to qualify. The study will also now be conducted annually, providing
valuable data on sales and trends to the surf industry on a more regular basis.
While data cannot be directly compared to SIMA’s previous studies, one overriding theme
remained consistent: the surf/skate industry is a lifestyle driven by passion, not a passing trend.
Dedicated surfers and skaters loyal to these sports continue to purchase at specialty retail, even
in tougher times. Industry sales in 2012 were led by surf/skate equipment sales (contributing
$439 Million combined); surf/skate men’s apparel ($202.5 Million) including boardshorts; and
surf/skate footwear ($225 Million) including men’s and women’s shoes and sandals.
“The passion for the surf culture is as strong as ever,” continued Palladini. “Even in more
challenging times, core surfers and skaters continue to frequent specialty retail for items crucial
to participation, such as surf/skate equipment, apparel, boardshorts, and footwear. The desire to
be part of the surf lifestyle continues to help drive sales.”
In the surfboard category, stand up paddleboard (SUP) sales made a strong showing. Stand up
paddleboards account for 22% of surfboard dollar sales in 2012, higher than hybrids at 21% (i.e.
fish, eggs, fun boards), but with shortboards (31%) and longboards (26%) accounting for the
most surfboard dollar sales.
“The strong showing of SUP sales illustrates the expanding influence of surf into river and lake
communities and other new demographics,” said Shea Weber, Chairman of the SIMA Board
Builders Committee and President of Dewey Weber International. “It will be interesting to chart
the growth of this category in future SIMA studies, as well as keep an eye on the dozens of
other new shapes and technologies emerging in the board building industry.”
The 2012 SIMA Specialty Retail Distribution Study cites that on average specialty retailers have
been in business for 17 years. Data also shows that 73% of all surveyed specialty retailers use
a point of sale system, and 35% have also taken to the web by currently offering catalog or
Internet sales to customers.