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 Breaking Headlines

Chain Stores Seeing Gains In Nordic, Telemark Sales

MARCH 18, 2004 -- "Chain stores continue to benefit from the growing trend in Nordic and telemark skiing this season," said Christine Martinez, market research manager of SIA. Nordic ski
equipment sales (including skis, boots, binding and poles) were up 36% in dollars over last season, totaling $5.8 million in sales through January 2004. Nordic skis (up 35% to $2.3 million), boots (up 45% to $2.2 million) and bindings (up 32% to $764,000) all experienced substantial gains in dollar sales over last season. Telemark ski equipment (including skis, boots and bindings) performed even better this season with a 66% jump in dollars over last season, ending January 2004 with $1.3 million in sales. At an average retail price of $391 in January 2004, telemark skis shot up 75% over last season up to $429,000.
Telemark bindings, at a season-to-date retail price of $111, skyrocketed 99% in dollars over last season. Combined Nordic and telemark season-to-date sales totaled $7.1 million in dollars, compared to alpine equipment's $54.2 million in sales.

Overall equipment sales (alpine, snowboard, Nordic and telemark) were down only 1% in dollars as compared to last season with sales totaling $115.3 million through January 2004. Alpine equipment (including skis, boots, bindings, poles and systems) was up slightly at 3% in dollars over last season ending January 2004 with $54.2 million in sales. Alpine skis, excluding integrated systems, fell 15% in dollars, as season-to-date average retail prices fell 6% to $180. Substantial dollar decreases came from ski boards (down 63% to $349,000) and carryover skis (down 29% to $2.9 million). Midfat skis, which made up 40% of all alpine ski units sold, also declined this season falling 19% in dollars over last season.

However, there were some bright spots in the alpine ski category this season over last. Fat ski sales spiraled up 96% in dollars to $849,000 through January 2004. Twintip ski sales rose 31% to $638,000 and carve ski sales increased 27% reaching $1.1 million in sales through January 2004. Junior ski units jumped 24%, but lower average retail prices kept the dollar increase moderate.
Integrated ski systems doubled their sales to $8.4 million this season with a tremendous 105% jump over last season. The average retail price was $461 in January 2004, up from $451 in January 2003. Alpine boot sales stayed relatively flat, up only 2% in dollars over last season. In January 2004, average retail prices stood at an impressive $205 up from only $165 in January 2003. Showing a positive sign for
alpine boots was the success of high performance boots in particular, which were up 81% over last season to $6.4 million. Dollar decreases came from recreation boots (down 46% to $2.6 million) and carryover boots (down 25% to $2.6 million).

Stand-alone alpine binding sales fell 5% in dollars over last season totaling $6.7 million in sales through
January 2004. Add stand-alone bindings to those bindings attached to systems, and total binding unit sales increased 8%. DIN 8-11, which accounted for 59% of all bindings sold, declined 14% in dollars while the much smaller DIN 12-14

Alpine poles did moderately well this season, up 7% in dollars over last season to $3.2 million in sales through January 2004. Adult poles (up 39% to $2.7 million) and junior poles (up 15% to $231,000) both saw sales increases over last season. However, a huge 69% drop in carryover pole sales held down growth for the entire alpine pole category.

Junior equipment, as a whole, performed extremely well over last season. Through January 2004, 16,000 junior skis, 17,000 junior boots, 14,000 junior bindings and 14,000 junior poles were sold.

Snowboard equipment sales did not fare as well in chain stores as they did in specialty stores. Through January 2004, snowboard equipment sales fell 9% in dollars with total sales at $54.1 million. Snowboard (down 3% to $23.7 million), boot (down 8% to $17.5 million) and binding (down 18% to $12.9 million) sales were all down this season over last. Hybrid and all mountain snowboards were down 39% and
32%, respectively, over last season.

Positive signs came from the 59% jump in sales of freestyle snowboards as the average retail price jumped from $236 last season to $258 this season. Carryover snowboards, which accounted for 40% of all snowboard units sold, were up 12% in dollar sales over last season. Carryover boots (down 24% to $3.2 million) and bindings (down 31% to $1.9 million) did not fare as well as boards. Neither did step-in boots nor step-in bindings which both experienced substantial declines over last season, 71% and 79% drops, respectively.

Through January 2004, all apparel sales were down a slight 1% in dollars. Women's apparel showed strong gains in chain stores this season. Women's insulated parkas (up 11% to $11.6 million), women's shell parkas (up 33% to $6.3 million) and women's soft shell parkas (up 326% to $432,000) helped to stabilize the apparel category over last season. Also contributing to apparel sales were bibs, up a surprising 275% over last season to $2.3 million, and fleece sales, up 28% to $19 million.

Women's apparel also helped drive snowboard apparel sales up 10% over last season to $29.2 million. Women's and junior snowboard tops did very well over last season, up 45% and 19%, respectively.

The entire accessories category was up 9% in dollars to $119.6 million through January 2004. As in specialty stores, winter boots were also hot in chains this season. Winter boots (up 103% to $5.1 million), snowshoes (up 14% to $2.3 million), goggles (up 11% to $8.4 million) and turtlenecks (up 46% to $1.6 million) all contributed to the moderate gain in dollars of the accessories category over last season. As in the specialty stores, snow deck/skate and helmet sales were notably down this season, by
39% and 14%, respectively.

Overall sales at chain stores were up 1.8% in dollars to $378.4 million for August 2003 through January 2004 as compared to $371.8 million for the same period last season. This increase in sales can be attributed to the growing interest in Nordic and telemark skiing as well as healthy gains in integrated ski system and fat ski sales. Unit sales at chain stores tracked 4.1% ahead. Sales for the month of January in chain stores were $88.5 million compared to $89.4 million, a decrease of less than 1%. Unit sales managed an increase of 6.3%.

Overall sales for the entire winter sport market (including specialty and chain stores), increased slightly by 1.8% in dollars to $1.72 billion for August 2003 through January 2004 as compared to $1.69 billion for the same period last season according to the SnowSports Industries America Retail Audit. Unit sales were ahead 5.8%. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product
categories. This is the fourth report of six that look at sales through March 31, 2004, the end of the winter season.

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Copyright 2004 Sporting Goods Business

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