QnA: Snowsports Industry Association | VailDaily.com

QnA: Snowsports Industry Association

High Country Business Review

The Snowsports Industry Association represents business that make and sell ski and snowboard equipment.

The group tracks what skiers and snowboarders are buying, where they’re buying it and at what point in the year they whip out their credit cards. Association president David Ingemie recently answered several questions via e-mail. To learn more about the association, go to http://www.snowsports.org.

A: SIA tracks overall products sales for specialty, chain and Internet stores. From the retail audit, SIA can speak to topline trends; however, there were no huge surprises as integrated ski systems still continue to dominate equipment sales, and twin tips were once again the bright spot in the alpine category, recording positive unit and dollar sales increases. Apparel outpaced equipment in both unit and dollar sales, and women’s apparel sales lent itself handily to the increase in both of those categories.

Fleece tops were a surprise this season recording an impressive 34 percent increase in units and 29 percent increase in dollars.

A: I would have you contact the National Ski Areas Association for this question as it relates to resorts. In terms of retail shops, that is partially true as most Eastern retail shops did sell through pretty well, just not at as high of a margin.

A: Overall, snowboard apparel only was down 3 percent from the last season in specialty stores. That’s certainly not a significant enough number to think that the category won’t remain strong in the coming season. Additionally, the category was also 75 percent sold through by the end of season, a 2 percent increase over last season.

I don’t feel that one could say that snowboarding is still the future of the ski industry, but snowboarding still remains a viable discipline in the overall snow sports industry. It is a discipline fueled by youth participation, and as long as we continue to increase youth participation in snow sports, whether it’s snowboarding, downhill skiing or any other discipline, they will prosper and experience continued growth.

A: We decided to start tracking product sales in the Internet distribution channel because we knew there was a large volume of product being sold via that channel. It took some time to refine the system to accurately start tracking sales and project real numbers for reporting.

There is definitely a lot of growth potential for sales on the Internet. The biggest growth opportunity for Internet sales is from existing brick and mortar stores that have added products to sell from their own Web sites, similar to the days when they would sell to consumers directly from catalogs.

Obviously we would encourage consumers to visit their local specialty stores to truly get the expert help they need; but many consumers know what brands and products they like and feel comfortable purchasing on the Internet without trying it out first.

A: In terms of leftover inventory it depends on which products you would like to examine. Equipment unit sales certainly struggled this season with the lack of snow early on in the season; however late snow throughout much of the United States certainly bolstered end of the season sales.

Snowboards were 67 percent sold through at the end of this season while alpine equipment was only at 57 percent, down almost 12 percent from the previous year. Several categories in apparel unit sales saw on average over 70 percent in sold through inventory which remains on par with sold-through inventory levels last season.

There isn’t really a national trend as to when is the best time to get a “screamin’ deal” on new equipment; inventories differ from region to region as do discount incentives and other price related offers.

According to our most recent study consumers aren’t necessarily driven by price or incentives to purchase, but rather what will enhance their experience on the mountain.

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