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Snow Sports’ Record $3.3 Billion Season

The snow sports industry shattered its previous single-season sales record of $3 billion in 2007/08, posting over $3.3 billion in sales for the full 2010/11 season.

Here are some highlights from SIA and stay tuned for an in-depth look at the season that was right here on twsbiz.com:

  • Reverse camber snowboard sales were up 42% in units sold and 46% in dollars sold. In fact, 45% of all current season model boards sold this season have reverse camber.
  • Americans fought the cold with insulated parkas this season and sales reflected cold and snowy La Niña conditions. Insulated parka sales finished the season up 24% in units sold and up 24% in dollars sold to $394 million in total sales.
  • Helmet sales were very strong this season with 1.2 million sold, up 3% in units sold and up 12% in dollars sold.

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This season, American consumers spent $902 million on snow sports equipment. Sales peaked in December and January but fell off the pace in February and March due to scarcity. Prices remained strong through the end of the season, particularly for equipment, demonstrating the market power of leaner inventories. In the past, retailers incentivized buyers with slashed prices for equipment, often selling current season equipment as carryover (sold at or below average retail cost). This season, sales of carryover equipment units were down 37% in February and down 27% in March 2011.

Apparel sales set a new record this season with $1.2 billion sold. The weather helped push apparel sales throughout the season as La Niña dumped snow across the Northern half of the U.S. through April. Overall, apparel sales were up 7% in units sold and up 11% in dollars sold. Keep in mind that snow sports apparel is purchased by many who will never ride a ski lift but want to be warm, dry and fashionable in the worst winter weather.

Snow sports accessories like helmets, gloves, ski racks, and snowshoes enjoyed excellent sales this season, accessories sales finished the season up 9% in units sold and up 14% in dollars sold bringing in $1.2 billion total. Helmets accounted for 10% of all accessories sales this season as the trend to protect against head injuries in skiing and other sports where collisions are likely continued to gain strength on new medical discoveries. In fact, more than 1.2 million snow sports specific helmets were sold this season.

Weather plays the most critical role in snow sports sales. Regionally, heavy snow and colder than average temperatures drove consumers to buy in the western region where sales were up 21% in equipment dollars sold, 14% in apparel and 20% in accessories sales. The Northeast also enjoyed sales increasing including 15% more in equipment dollars, 18% more in apparel and 19% in accessories dollars sold during the season. In the South, snow sports participants who were headed for more mountainous terrain continued their equipment buying spree increasing sales up 16%, but warmer weather in the southern U.S. did not drive apparel and accessories sales. Southern apparel sales were relatively flat with a 2% gain in dollars sold and accessories are up just 1% over last season. The Midwestern region’s sales continued to grow this season; up 13% in equipment, 4% in apparel and up 13% in accessories dollars sold.