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Drought, cold temperatures bring mixed results to snow sales

Published March 20, 2014 7:37 am

Increase • Survey shows jump in sales for entire year.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The drought in the western United States and frigid temperatures in the east and midwest have brought mixed results for ski and snowboarding retailers across the country.

The latest SnowSports Industries (SIA) RetailTRAK survey shows that while the snow sports retail market is up 4 percent in units sold and increased 7 percent in dollars sold to $2.8 billion for the 2013-14 year, January sales showed a 4 percent drop in equipment, a 12 percent drop in apparel and a 10 percent in accessories sales.

"When the temperatures dip well below normal, consumers who will never see a slope or a trail may head to a snow sports retailer for gloves, hats and apparel tops that will help them weather abnormally frigid temperatures," said Kelly Davis, SIA director of research.

Lean inventory levels also seem to be helping retailers this year. Equipment inventories are 10 percent lower through January, while apparel inventories are down 11 percent overall.

"Scarcity is healthy for the market," Davis said in an SIA news release. "Scarcity results in higher margins and diminishes the need for discounting in the middle of the season putting more money into retailers' pockets and increasing open-to-buy budgets."

The report showed that average retail prices are 2 percent higher in equipment, 6 percent higher in apparel and 6 percent higher for accessories through January. Margins increased 3 percent in equipment, 3 percent in apparel and 4 percent in accessories.

From August through January, $2.8 billion was spent on snow sports retail goods. Sports retailers brought in $178 million more through January this season compared to the same period in 2012-13, despite weather conditions.

One of the biggest increases were sales of action cameras, which were up 13 percent in units sold to 91,500 cameras and 27 percent in dollars sold to $31 million through January. Davis said that action cameras might be the single most popular accessory in the snow sports market.

The SIA estimates that the more than 19 million people who ski, snowboard, cross country ski, snow shoe, telemark and enjoy alpine touring will spend more than $3.5 billion this season.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton