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Snow sports equipment sales look good early in season

Published December 17, 2013 2:21 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Good early snowstorms and improved sales have many retailers who sell skis, snowboards and related gear smiling going into the busy holiday season.

According to a December survey issued by SnowSports Industries America (SIA), snow sports retailers sold $624 million in apparel, accessories and equipment from Aug. 1 to Oct. 3, a 3 percent increase in dollars sold compared to the same period in 2012.

The report revealed that good snow conditions in November and December are expected to have a positive impact on the snow-sports market during the critical holiday buying season, when typically about 35 percent of total season sales are made.

There were also some troubling aspects to the report.

While equipment, apparel and accessories sales were up in dollars, the number of units were either flat or down as much as 5 percent in units sold. That would indicate more expensive prices, but relatively flat demand.

There were several notable trends reported. These included:

Snowboard sales were up 1 percent through Oct. 31, the strongest start for snowboarding retailing in the past three seasons. The industry is hoping good snow conditions will bring in some new and lapsed riders back to the slopes.

Alpine touring equipment sales increased 26 percent in dollars sold and 23 percent in units sold.

Sales of backcountry accessories including beacons, probes and shovels increased 46 percent in dollars sold through October.

Cross country ski sales increased 13 percent in units sold and 7 percent in dollars sold. This part of the business had suffered with average and late snow the last two seasons.

Alpine binding sales were up 11 percent in units sold and up 15 percent in dollars sold through October, with high performance bindings leading the way.

The report indicated that snow conditions are the key factor driving sales.

"Overall, the snow sports market has more than 19 million participants in skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, telemark and alpine touring," read the report. "This season, we project that consumers will spend more than $3.5 million on equipment, apparel and accessories in the snow sports market."

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton