Highlights from the 2008/2009 Snowsport Season Analysis

I had the pleasure of being permitted to listen in on the SIA/Leisure Trend conference call this afternoon highlighting the 2008/2009 Snowsport Season Analysis from August 2008 – March 2009. There were about 100 people registered for the call led by Kelly Davis of SIA and Scott Jaeger of Leisure Trends. Kelly began the call by reiterating that retailers sold less and made less this year. There were still 57.1 million ski/riders this season which is only a 5.5% decline from last year’s record setting season. Passionate riders find the money and snow will always trump the economy.

Below I have taken the liberty to highlight some of the interesting reports. Not a shocker but it was a tough year for specialty retailers. Northeast retailers faired okay with Southern California retailers reporting the worst sales stats. Strong early season sales helped to offset slow downs at the end of the season in some cases. Online sales ($5456 million) made up for brick-and-mortar sales. In fact, internet sales were up 12.1% while specialty stores were down 7.82% and chains were down 7.36%. There was aggressive discounting across the board, which is going to have long-term effects on profit. There will be fewer OTB dollars out in the market next buying season. In addition, consumers are being trained to seek discounts. There needs to be a partnership between retailers and manufacturers not to devalue industry products as a whole.

Hot Trends:

In the ski arena, the sale of ski systems are down. People want freedom in bindings. Flat ski twin tips are up. Carve skis are down.

In the snowboard category, reverse chamber, freestyle snowboards are the new big thing. Freeride snowboards are going away like carve skis. The trend is moving to freestyle. Overall, (adult) snowboard sales were down 9% with a 7% decline in dollars. Boots remained a positive category with a small decline of 1%. The thought being that as feet grow, riders are forced to get new boots. In a down economy, they might keep their board and bindings. More riders are apparently tuning their own boards with the sale of wax on the rise.

Apparel led the charge in declining categories, after an eight season increase. The category fell 10% this year. Brutal temperatures early in the season kept sales from falling further. Retailers were forced to discount as shoppers were gun shy.

Specifically, insulated parkas which used to be a retailing golden child is no longer a hot selling item.

Margins in apparel and equipment have been dropping for the past couple of years. The loss was only felt more as retailers struggled in a down economy.
Inventory management is more important than ever.