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 Breaking Headlines

Snow Industry Sales Up 1.4% Thru February

APRIL 22, 2004 -- Overall sales for the entire winter sport market (including specialty and chain stores), increased slightly by 1.4% in dollars to $2.06 billion for August 2003 through February 2004 as compared to $2.03 billion for the same period last season according to the SIA Retail Audit. Unit sales were ahead 4.6%. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This is the fifth report of six that look at sales through March 31, 2004, the end of the winter season.

Chain Store Results:

The entire winter sports accessories category was up 9% in dollars to $143.6 million through February 2004 in chain stores. As in specialty stores, winter boots were also hot in chains this season. Winter boots (up 85% to $5.7 million), turtlenecks (up 40% to $1.9 million), snowshoes (up 19% to $3 million), base layer (up 19% to $23 million), goggles (up 13% to $10.5 million), headwear (up 8% to $13 million) and gloves (up 6% to $18.3 million) all contributed to a gain in dollars over last season. As in the specialty stores, snow deck/skate and helmet sales were notably down this season, by 41% and 10%, respectively.

CHAIN STORES:

Integrated ski systems continued to boom this season in chain stores. Integrated ski systems doubled their sales to $10.3 million this season with a tremendous 102% jump over last season. Average retail prices fell from $433 to $405. Overall equipment sales (alpine, snowboard, Nordic and telemark) were flat in dollars as compared to last season with sales totaling $135.5 million through February 2004. Alpine equipment sales (including skis, boots, bindings, poles and systems) were flat as well, up 1% in dollars over last season ending February 2004 with $64.7 million in sales.

Alpine skis, excluding integrated systems, fell 16% in dollars, as season-to-date average retail prices fell 4% to $181. Substantial dollar decreases came from ski boards (down 62% to $409,000) and carryover skis (down 33% to $3.4 million). Midfat skis, which made up 41% 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 as chain stores branched out. Fat ski sales spiraled up 82% in dollars to $1.1 million through February 2004. Twintip ski sales rose 36% to $785,000 and carve ski sales increased 32% reaching $1.4 million in sales through February 2004. The average retail price of carve skis jumped from $148 to $220 comparing this season to last. Junior ski units jumped 27%, but lower average retail prices kept the dollar increase moderate.

Alpine boot sales stayed relatively flat, down 1% in dollars over last season. A 23% unit drop in carryover boots helped the category's average retail price increase from $159 last season to $172 this season. High performance boots saw all the action, up 68% over last season to $7.8 million. The average retail price remained steady at $258 giving them 33% of the boot dollars sold this season. Dollar decreases came from recreation boots (down 49% to $3 million), carryover boots (down 24% to $3.2 million), soft boots (down 17% to $1.1 million) and junior boots (down 4% to $1.3 million).

Stand-alone alpine binding sales fell 8% in dollars over last season totaling $8.1 million in sales through February 2004. DIN 8-11, which accounted for 59% of all bindings sold, declined 17% in dollars while the much smaller DIN 12-14 category shot up 18% in dollars to $2.2 million.

Alpine pole sales were up 2% in dollars over last season to $3.7 million in sales through February 2004. Adult poles (up 30% to $3.2 million) and junior poles (up 14% to $270,000) both saw sales increases over last season. However, a huge 70% 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 February 2004, 18,000 junior skis, 19,000 junior boots, 16,000 junior bindings and 16,000 junior poles were sold.

Nordic ski equipment sales (including skis, boots, binding and poles) were up 33% in dollars over last season, totaling $7.2 million in sales through February 2004. Nordic skis (up 31% to $2.9 million), boots (up 42% to $2.7 million) and bindings (up 32% to $965,000) 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 63% jump in dollars over last season, ending February 2004 with $1.8 million in sales. At an average retail price of $320 in February 2004, telemark skis shot up 56% over last season up to $615,000.

Telemark bindings, at a season-to-date retail price of $110, skyrocketed 97% in dollars over last season. Combined Nordic and telemark season-to-date sales totaled $9 million in dollars, compared to alpine equipment's $64.7 million in sales.

Snowboard equipment sales did not fare as well in chain stores as they did in specialty stores. Through February 2004, snowboard equipment sales fell 4% in dollars with total sales at $61.7 million. Snowboard sales increased a slight 2% to $27.1 million. Boot (down 3% to $19.9 million) and binding (down 13% to $14.8 million) sales were both down this season over last. Hybrid and all mountain snowboards were down 35% and 26%, respectively, over last season.

Positive signs came from the 70% jump in sales of freestyle snowboards as the average retail price jumped from $236 last season to $253 this season. Carryover snowboards, which accounted for 40% of all snowboard units sold, were up 13% in dollar sales over last season.

Carryover boots (down 20% to $3.6 million) and bindings (down 27% to $2.1 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, 72% and 79% drops, respectively.

Apparel in chain stores did not perform as well as in the specialty stores. Chain store apparel sales were flat, totaling $172.8 through February 2004. Women's apparel did show some strong gains in chain stores this season. Women's insulated parkas (up 9% to $13.9 million), women's shell parkas (up 37% to $7.6 million) and women's soft shell parkas (up 450% to $622,000) helped to stabilize the apparel category over last season. Also contributing to apparel sales were bibs, up a surprisingly 278% over last season to $2.8 million, and fleece sales, up 29% to $21.9 million.

Women's apparel also helped drive snowboard apparel sales up 13% over last season to $35.9 million. Women's and junior snowboard tops did very well over last season, up 47% and 14%, respectively.

Overall sales at chain stores were up 2.9% in dollars to $451.8 million for August 2003 through February 2004 as compared to $439.2 million for the same period last season. "This increase in sales can be attributed to healthy gains in apparel accessories and integrated ski systems," said Christine Martinez, market research manager for the SnowSports Industries America. Unit sales at chain stores tracked 4.1% ahead. Sales for the month of February in chain stores were $73.6 million compared to $67.3 million, an increase of 9%. Unit sales managed an increase of 4.3%.

Specialty Store Results:

Integrated ski systems helped the alpine ski equipment category this season with admirable gains in both specialty and chain stores. In the specialty stores, all integrated ski system sales were up 25% in dollars through February, prompted by average retail prices which were $78 cheaper than last season. By the end of February 2004, integrated ski systems were 70% sold through and totaled $58.7 million in sales. Overall, integrated ski systems have been strong performers this season with sales beating last season's sales by an average of 23% each month.

Even with the success of integrated ski systems, overall equipment sales (alpine, snowboard, Nordic and telemark) were down 3% in dollars as compared to last season with sales totaling $604.7 million through February 2004. For the fifth straight month this season, equipment sales are tracking behind as compared to last season's sales. Alpine equipment (including skis, boots, bindings, poles and systems) contributed to the decline this period, tracking 13% behind in dollar sales this season over last.

Alpine skis, excluding integrated systems, fell 20% in dollars over last season, ending February 2004 with $114.1 million in sales. Even the lower retail prices (down 10%) did not spur sales. Substantial dollar decreases came from carve skis (down 37% to $13.5 million), ski boards (down 34% to $3.2 million) and midfat skis (down 27% to $61.5 million). Through February, 39,000 carve skis were sold, down from 63,000 last season. In contrast, carve ski dollar sales are growing in chain stores prompted by a $72 jump in average retail price this season over last.

Retailers found a new niche this season. Fat ski sales managed a healthy jump of 24% in dollars over last season ending February with $7.6 million in sales. "Fatter under the foot" continues to be the present trend. The season-to-date retail price of $520 is $30 cheaper than last season's price. Carryover ski sales rose 23% in dollars to $10.5 million. One out of every 7.4 pairs of alpine skis sold (excluding systems) was a carryover unit.

Junior ski equipment provided some hope for the alpine ski equipment category in February. Although lower prices kept dollar gains low, unit increases were considerable for most junior ski equipment categories. Junior skis, boots and bindings experienced unit increases over last season, 22%, 29% and 21%, respectively. Junior poles did not fare as well with a 1% unit gain over last season.

Although junior boot sales increased, overall alpine boot sales still declined. Alpine boot sales declined 14% in dollars due to falling sales in recreation boots (down 40% to $14 million), soft boots (down 29% to $8.7 million) and high performance boots (down 18% to $56.5 million). Soft boots continued their decline as average retail prices plunged from $326 to $260 in February, a 20% drop. In line with their ski sales, carryover boots also continued to track well this season with a 10% increase over last season.

Along with a drop in alpine ski and boot sales, came a drop in alpine binding sales as compared to last season. down overall 26% in dollars to $41.7 million through February 2004. Contributing to this drop were falling sales in DIN 1-7 bindings (down 79% to $3.3 million), DIN 8-11 bindings (down 26% to $20.1 million), DIN 12-14 bindings (down 37% to $12.2 million), skiboard bindings (down 79% to $24.6 million) and carryover bindings (down 24% to $2.1 million).

Poles did not keep pace with total ski sales. Alpine pole sales declined totaling $11.6 million through February 2004. The entire alpine pole category fell 17% in dollars, largely due to a 44% plunge in carryover pole sales over last season.

Nordic and telemark ski equipment continue to gain popularity in specialty stores. Nordic ski equipment sales jumped 42% in dollars to $35.6 million through February 2004. Nordic skis (up 46% to $14.8 million), boots (up 39% to $11.8 million), bindings (up 46% to $5.6 million) and poles (up 31% to $3.4 million) are growing in popularity at the same pace. Comparing this season to last, average retail prices of Nordic skis increased $16 to $135.

Telemark ski equipment sales performed even better, culminating in a 74% increase over last season's sales and reaching $6.4 million through February 2004. Although average retail price decreased $24 to $344 through February, telemark ski sales increased 37% in dollars. Telemark boot and binding sales leapt 93% and 110%, respectively. With boot and binding sales outpacing ski sales, telemark skiers seem to be retrofitting old alpine skis or are updating their old telemark skis with new bindings. Combined, Nordic and telemark sales totaled $42 million this season, compared to alpine equipment’s $365.5 million in sales.

Along with Nordic and telemark equipment, snowboard equipment (including snowboards, boots and bindings) is also tracking ahead of last season in dollars at specialty stores. Through February, all snowboard equipment sales were up 15% in dollars ending with $197.2 million for the season thus far.

Snowboard (up 15% to $91.6 million), boot (up 14% to $58.8 million) and binding (up 17% to $46.8 million) sales all increased at similar paces this season over last. All mountain (up 48% to $7.7 million) and carryover snowboard (up 53% to $7.1 million) sales performed remarkably well as compared to last season. All mountain boards, which represent 8% of the snowboard dollars sold this season, maintained an average retail price of $234 through February, down from $240 last season. Freestyle boards continued to gain popularity with sales reaching $36.6 million through February 2004. These boards accounted for 40% of the dollars thus far this season. Freeride board sales were flat as compared to last season.

Carryover boots and bindings continue to perform well for the snowboard equipment market this season, up 70% and 111%, respectively, over last season. Step-in boots and bindings are experiencing the opposite results this season with 76% and 65% drops in dollar sales, respectively, over last season.

Although accessory sales were up 9% in chain stores, the accessories category in specialty stores was down 1% in dollars to $521.4 million through February 2004. Equipment accessories, in particular, declined 10% due to substantial drops in snow deck/skate and helmet sales, 53% and 28%, respectively.

Snowshoes cushioned these declines with a healthy jump of 22% over last season up to $16 million through February 2004. Sunglasses, auto racks and goggles each declined 4%, respectively.

Apparel accessory growth slowed down in February with sales up 8% in dollars to $291.9 million over last season. Winter boots (up 65% to $13.9 million), gloves (up 17% to $50.3 million), base layer (up 15% to $71.7 million) and socks (up 14% to $31.6 million) all experienced moderate increases over last season. Turtlenecks and headgear sales in dollars continued to track behind in February, declining 23% and 10%, respectively, over last season.

For the month of February, specialty apparel sales (including tops, bottoms and snowboard) were up 9% in dollars to $82.8 million as compared to $73.7 million in February 2003. Insulated parkas, soft shells and snowboard apparel continued to perform exceptionally well this season in part due to the cold weather on the East Coast. When comparing this season to last, insulated parka sales were up 20% to $109.2 million. Women propelled insulated parka sales up 27% in dollars over last season.

Soft shell parkas have doubled their sales over last season. At an average retail price of $202 in February, they were up a substantial 104% in dollars to $12.6 million. Soft shell waist pants performed almost as well as their parka counterparts, jumping 92% in dollars over last season to $1.8 million. The brutal weather also helped contribute to very good fleece and base layer apparel sales. As compared to last season, fleece tops were up 26% to $58 million and base layer apparel up 15% to $71.7 million.

By the end of February, all snowboard apparel was up a considerable 17% in dollars to $91.2 million in sales for the season thus far. In particular, junior snowboard tops and women's snowboard bottoms continued to see increased sales over last season, gaining 25% and 22%, respectively. The average retail price for all snowboard bottoms fell $7 from last season to $102. Carryover snowboard apparel continues to be very popular with riders this season. Sales almost doubled this season, up 73% in dollars to $7.3 million through February 2004.

Shell parkas and apparel suits did not fare so well, with dollar sales falling behind 10% and 39%, respectively, over last season. Vests (no fleece) (down 4% to $3.5 million) and sweaters (down 16% to $19.7 million) also tracked behind last season's sales. While most apparel suits are tracking behind last season’s sales, stretch suit sales were up 17% over last season.

Overall sales at specialty stores were up 1% in dollars to $1.61 billion for August 2003 through February 2004 as compared to $1.59 billion for the same period last season. "Strong performers in the specialty stores this period included integrated ski systems, snowboard equipment and alpine and snowboard apparel," said Martinez. Unit sales at specialty stores were up from last season tracking 4.8% ahead. Sales for the month of February in specialty stores were $266.5 million compared to $273 million in February 2003, a decrease of 2.4%. Unit sales dropped for the month by 1.5%.







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