The final results are in for the 2009-10 ski and snowboard season and the retail equipment and apparel market finished up 4% over last season in totals sales according to data released Wednesday by the trade association SnowSports Industries America (SIA). Snow sport retailers sold $2.94 billion this season compared to $2.82 billion a year ago. Although sales were up in dollars, fewer units were sold this season.
The most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression was felt as early as pre-season. Before the start of the season, orders were down 10% to 40% and inventories, made smaller due to heavy carryover sales last season, stayed small. In fact, inventories started out this season 9% leaner than they were at the beginning of the 2008-09 season.
Skis with fat waists moved faster than skinny skis this season. Fat ski sales increased more than 30% in units and in dollars sold. Although rocker snowboards had a good run again this season all snowboard sales were down in units and in dollars sold this season. More than 1.1 million helmets sold through February this season for record sales.
Snowboard equipment finished the 2009-10 season in decline at specialty retailers with unit sales down 7% and dollars sold down 4%. Many snowboard buyers are still looking for bargains and snowboard carryover sales have increased 16% in units and 19% in dollars. In fact, snowboard and telemark were the only equipment categories that have brought in fewer dollars this season compared to last season at specialty stores.
Looking at the data region by region, western states followed the overall market pattern with declines in unit sales but an increase in dollars sold. In fact, unit sales were down 4% while dollar sales increased 4%, representing $23.5 million more dollars sold in the region. Fewer skis, snowboards and apparel sold at higher prices, driving up margins and overall revenue in the Western states this season.
Sales in the Northeastern specialty shops accounted for 29% of all specialty sales this season. Sales were down 8% in units sold and up 1% in dollars sold to $502 million for the season.
El Niño conditions, which left the Midwest with higher than average temperatures and lower than average snowfall, led to lower than average sales. In the Midwest, sales were down 10% in units and 3% in dollars to $311 million. But El Niño drove sales up in the South, with record snow in places like Houston and lower than average temperatures all winter. Sales in Southern snow sports specialty shops finished the 2009-10 season up 15% in units sold and up 17% in dollars sold to $274 million, an increase of $46.5 million.