SIA is releasing its 2011 SIA Snow Sports Market Intelligence Report to its members tomorrow, but we cut the ropes for a sneak preview of last season’s snowboard sales and demographic data.
Last season’s sales hit a record a record $3.3 billion over the full 2010/2011 season, easily breaking the 2007/2008 season’s $3 billion mark.
Here’s a look at the snowboard specific data:
This year’s report also includes an executive summary. Here are the highlights:
Overall, snow sports sales were up 8% in units sold, and 12% in dollars sold. Leaner inventories kept prices strong throughout the season. For example, hard goods inventories finished the season 19% leaner and equipment prices were 10% higher than they were at the close of last season. With higher prices, retailers enjoy more profit. In fact, retail margins finished the season up 10% for equipment, up 10% for accessories, and up 4% for apparel goods sold. It was an excellent season for suppliers, retailers and consumers alike.
Weather played a crucial role in this season’s record breaking sales as snowfall across every region, except the Southeast, was above or well-above average. Additionally snow continued falling well into spring, lengthening the season in areas like Mammoth Mountain and Utah.
The economy continues to skip along the bottom with limited recovery in employment and wage growth. The national unemployment rate hovered around 9% all season and wage growth is sitting at a 10 year low. Prices for food, energy, and apparel items were on the rise and gasoline prices crossed the $4 mark by season’s end. Consumer confidence shifted back and forth from negative to positive all season long and ended our season in March on a down note. Keep in mind that general economic conditions have a lessor impact on the snow sports market, (particularly when the stock market and wealth indicators remain relatively stable) when the snowfall is good. We saw the greater influence that weather had on the market this season as current economic conditions alone did not portend a record breaking season, as the snow sports market outperformed overall retail by a longshot.
Participation in snow sports is increasing, according to the latest participation data (2009/2010 season) and skier/rider visits data for the 2010/2011 season. As explained in the participation data, there were 10.4% more snowboarders.
Snowboard equipment sales totaled $303 million, up 4% in dollars sold, but down 4% in units sold. Despite the decline in unit sales, consumers bought more than 500,000 boards at an average retail price of $280 (includes carryover and juniors’). That price was 9% higher than last season’s average retail price. Bargain hunting riders could buy a carryover board for $175 this season, $15 more than they would have paid for a carryover board last season. The snowboard market displayed its affinity for innovation this season as reverse camber boards overtook sales of normal cambered boards for the first time. In fact, of all current season board models, 63% were reverse camber. Snowboard inventories finished the season leaner than ever with 34,000 fewer boards, 39,000 fewer boots, and 49,000 fewer bindings spending the off season in retail inventories. That portends even higher prices and healthier margins for snowboard equipment during the 2011/2012 season. Leaner inventories at retail may further reduce the number of snowboard units sold unless participation in the sport surges. On average, snowboard riders tend to have less discretionary income than the alpine ski participants and higher prices coupled with economic issues, including high unemployment and flat wage growth may have kept, and may continue to keep some riders from buying new boards. The same issues may account for similar patterns in the surf and skate markets, particularly in the Pacific region.
Overall Sales By Channel
Specialty shops had a strong season enjoying a 9% increase in units sold and a 14% increase in dollars sold to more than $2 billion in sales. Equipment sales led the way for specialty shops; alpine equipment sales brought in 17% more dollars this season including a 23% increase in alpine equipment sales that translated to $78 million more dollars for skis, boots and bindings. Snowboard equipment sales were up 5% in dollars and up 1% in units this season and specialty shops were the only channel that snowboard sales enjoyed gains. Cross country skiing equipment was up 9% in dollars this season to $33 million on a 3% increase in units sold. The AT/Randonee category ended the season the way it started, on fire with an astounding 210% increase in dollars sold to $8 million in sales. Seventy-two percent of all equipment dollars were spent in specialty shops this season.
Apparel sales also were strong in specialty shops bringing in 10% more dollars sold for a total of $631 million. In apparel, insulated parkas led the charge to fend off the snow and cold La Niña brought to the mountains and cities this season and sales were up 22% to $217 milllion. Snowboard apparel sales increased a modest 2% in dollars sold over last season when the declines in this category were most pronounced. Snowboard apparel that was this season’s style (not carryover) sold better this season with gains of 2% in units and 4% in dollars sold but inventories are much leaner at the end of this season, down 16% in units and down 22% in inventory costs which bodes well for next season’s sales.
Helmets, goggles and snowshoes were big winners in the accessories category that finished the season $407 million in sales, up 14% compared to the 2009/2010 season. Almost a million helmets were sold in specialty shops this season, a 7% increase over last season’s record sales. Backcountry accessories sales finished the season up 36% in dollars sold, but sales of this critical safety equipment did not match the vast increase in backcountry equipment sales.
Chain stores sales finshed up 11% in dollars sold to $624 million this season. Apparel sales reached $266 million and accounted for 43% of all chain store sales, up 14% over last season. Accessories sales were up 11% and brought in $249 million or 40% of chain store dollars over the season. Finally, equipment sales lagged in chain stores this season, down more than 9% in units sold despite a 4% gain in dollars as chains limit their equipment inventories to focus on apparel and accessories products that bring in the bulk of their sales. On a positive note in equipment, carryover equipment sales finished the season down 21% as chain stores work to eliminate costs of excess inventory and make way for next season’s new skis and boards. Only the
Snowboard equipment sales were off 11% in units sold and up 1% in dollars sold.
Apparel sales were strong in the chain channel led by this season’s styles of alpine tops that brought in $190 million, $35 million more than last season. In fact, alpine tops accounted for 70% of all apparel sold in chain stores as both snow sports enthusiasts and the general public bought warm, light, stylish snow sports apparel to guard against La Niña conditions across North America. This season’s styles of snowboard apparel did well in chain stores where sales increased 24% and carryover snowboard-wear declined 51% on much leaner inventories. Snowboard apparel inventories finished the season more than 50% leaner at the close of this season.
Accessories sales increased 11% in dollars and 8% in units this season. Surprisingly, helmet sales were down 6% in dollars and 17% in units sold in chain stores. Not surprisingly, glove sales were up 22% in dollars and 24% in units as people who enjoy snow sports and/or just need gloves to clear snow off of their driveway head to chain stores for winter gloves.
Online shopping continues to grow this season reaching $652 million, up 9% over last season’s total. Accessories sales including helmets, hats, goggles, sunglasses and winter boots enjoyed strong sales online growing 8% in units sold and 11% in dollars sold. Apparel brought in half of all dollars sold online this season and gained 5% in units sold. Insulated parkas continued their streak online with $253 million in sales on more than 2 million parkas sold. Equipment sales suffered somewhat online decreasing 6% in units sold but higher prices remained strong all season and 6% more dollars were spent on snow sports gear online this season. The data indicates that snow sports equipment consumers are increasingly recognizing the expertise that specialty shops offer when purchasing equipment. Services like boot fitting, finding just the right pair of skis and local knowledge are driving consumers into brick and mortar specialty shops for those purchases.
Apparel sales are quite healthy online increasing 5% in units sold and 9% in dollars sold to $325 million. Men’s insulated parka sales increased 35% in dollars sold, fleece sales hit $69 million this season, up 14% in dollars sold, and alpine apparel bottoms sales increased 11% in units sold and 12% in dollars sold to $29 million. Snowboard apparel sales suffered online decreasing 22% in units sold and 9% in dollars sold online this season. Even 2010/2011 snowboard apparel styles suffered a decline in sales online, sales are off 23% in units sold and down 8% in dollars sold exclusing carryover sales.
Equipment accessories sold very well online this season including a 37% increase in goggles dollars sold, 59% increase in wax dollars sold, and 15% more luggage dollars sold. Apparel accessories increased 5% in units and 10% in dollars overall led by gloves and mittens that enjoyed a 32% increase in dollars sold online and headwear that has brought in 19% more dollars with sales totaling more than $9 million. Finally, the Internet was the place to buy non-wool base layer items, sales increased 25% in units sold and 27% in dollars sold to $16 million as specialty shops and chain stores focused on natural fiber base layer products.
Conclusion and Looking Forward to 2011/2012
This season, La Niña brought snowfall that wouldn’t stop falling, leaner inventories provided scarcity for in-demand products and consequently stronger prices throughout the season, and consumers brought a better outlook on their economic situation to the market. All of these factors resulted in a record $3.3 billion in sales. Alpine and AT/Randonee ski equipment performed well this season as did apparel to keep consumers warm in colder than average temperatures in the mountains, and accessories to keep them active like base layer, goggles, and helmets. Snowboarders in California, where more than 20% of U.S. snowboarders reside, are suffering more from economic woes than the typical snow sports participant, but alpine skiers felt economically fine and opened their wallets this season. Fat skis, reverse camber boards, NNN cross country ski bindings, natural fiber base layer and helmet sales were the hot products this season.
For the 2011/2012 season, pre-season orders for equipment are stronger, inventories have less carryover gear and apparel than ever before, and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration is calling for another La Niña winter after a “normal” or neutral fall season. If the economy avoids another contraction and wealth generally stays with its owners then the season ahead looks bright indeed. Keep your eyes on consumer confidence; look for significant changes in our economic well-being, particularly those that affect wealth, and for weather forecasts calling for another La Niña winter season. Barring unforeseen disruptions, if those variables come together, sales should grow at a modest rate next season