As the snow season winds up, we checked in with Snowsports Industries America (SIA) President Nick Sargent to get his take on current inventory levels and how order books are shaping up for next season.
Inventory and Order Books
High inflation, steep interest rates and other economic headwinds have caused consumers to pull back on their spending on snow gear, Sargent believes.
“Certainly retailers have more product on their shelves right now than they were hoping to,” Sargent said. “There are definitely some soft spots out there.”
Sargent is watching how retailers work through that inventory without having to discount it too heavily.
After two seasons of booming sales during the pandemic, Sargent expects this season’s snow sales to look similar to pre-pandemic levels when the final numbers are totaled.
“That wealthy consumer just came off of two years of buying all new products. And when the stock market goes down, they stop spending,” Sargent said. “That’s why they have their money. They know when to spend and when not to spend, and we’re in that ‘not spend’ space right now.”
From what Sargent has heard from snow brands, orders for the fall season are coming in very light, which tells him that retailers are concerned.
“The manufacturer is having to work with the retailer to get creative with their buys,” he said.
Top Selling Snow Gear
Aside from those insights, Sargent provided some analysis around Circana data highlighting the Top 10 bestselling items at retail in the snowsports industry in the following categories:
- Snowboard Equipment
- Alpine Equipment
- Nordic Equipment
- Alpine Touring Equipment
The figures below are from Aug. 2022-Oct. 2022.
Top 10 Selling Items in the Snow Industry
Overall, the U.S. snow industry sold $1.6 billion worth of products from Aug. 2022 to Oct. 2022, which was up 3% year-over-year. Total units sold were 26 million, up 4% from the same period last year.
Chain snow retailers notched sales of $959 million, up 5% year-over-year during that early-season period. Specialty snow stores sold $409 million, up 1%, and internet snow sales came in at $280 million, down 2%.
Men’s sales totaled $898 million, up 2% from the same period last year, with women’s at $555 million, up 5%, and youth at $155 million, up 4%.
In the hardgoods categories, alpine skis led overall sales at $54 million, a decline of 13% year-over-year. Alpine boots came in second at $45 million, down 11%, and snowboards were third at $30 million, down 13%.
These figures will be updated when final numbers for the entire season are released.
Top Selling Snowboard Equipment
Burton dominates the snowboard landscape for several reasons, according to Sargent.
“Burton has very strong brand equity as one of the originators in the snowboard space,” he said.
“They have time and time again evolved the snowboard hardgoods space, whether it was with boards, whether it was Step On, whether it was boot technology. The first to use BOA on their boots … They just continue to push the envelope on product development and innovating.”
There are a lot of hungry brands out there on their heels that have targeted the binding, boot and board categories, Sargent added.
He mentioned K2 and Capita as two examples of other strong brands.
“But, as a whole, Burton stands alone,” Sargent said.
He mentioned Burton’s Custom snowboard as the company’s go-to, all-mountain, intermediate-to-expert board that just “sells itself.”
Top Selling Alpine Equipment
Sargent pointed out Blizzard Tecnica’s Black Pearl ski as consistently selling well at retail. Same with Volkl’s Mantra.
“There are always those standouts that the consumer is aware of and will continuously go back to the shelf looking for them,” Sargent said.
Gear reviews usually favor the Black Pearl year after year, according to Sargent, and in-resort word-of-mouth helps with that as well.
“They’ve hit the nail on the head with that ski,” he added.
Top Selling Nordic Equipment
Top Selling Alpine Touring Equipment
Source: The NPD Group/Snow Industry View, snow chain, snow specialty and snow internet channels.
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.