WASHINGTON, Colorado - SnowSports Industries America and Leisure Trends Group have released SIA RetailTRAK numbers for August through October 2012, collected from the point of sale systems of more than 1,200 snow sports retailers.
The snow sports market declined 2 percent, but reached $616 million in sales so far this season (August through October) despite significant disruptions in retail sales in the South and Northeast regions due to Hurricane Sandy, uncertainty in the face of the "fiscal cliff," and lack of momentum from the snow-challenged 2011-12 season. Over the past four seasons, retail sales from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31 account for approximately 15 percent of total season sales and tend to be indicative of momentum from the previous season; snow sports retail sales during August through October follow that pattern.
Comparing only the month of October 2012 to October 2011 (rather than the period August-October), snow sports retail sales declined 5 percent in units and 4 percent in dollars sold - about $13 million less in October 2012 compared to October 2011 for all apparel, accessories and equipment retail sales. Apparel sales increased slightly (1 percent) reaching $161 million and accessories sales including goggles, gloves, wax, hats and cameras fell 4 percent. October was a very difficult month to sell equipment; snowboard equipment sales declined 19 percent, cross country equipment sales fell 30 percent, and alpine equipment sales were off $4 million or 8 percent for the month of October.
In late October, Hurricane Sandy disrupted lives and retail sales with blizzard conditions, severe flooding and wind damage to much of the Eastern Seaboard. In the South and Northeast regions retail was literally shut down for days. Sandy had a direct impact on the residences of a third of skiers and riders in the U.S. market. In fact, snow sports specialty retailers in the Northeast suffered a $14 million (26 percent) decline in October dollar sales and the South saw snow sports sales slip $6 million (27 percent). Equipment dollar sales were particularly depressed in these two storm-struck regions, down 30 percent in the Northeast and down 44 percent in the South. It's logical to conclude that few persons affected directly by this mega-storm were thinking about buying new snow sports equipment as they recovered from this wide-ranging severe weather event.