The ski and snowboard retail market finished the 2013/2014 season with $3.6 billion in sales, according to SnowSports Industries America and Leisure Trends final RetailTRAK numbers, up 4 percent in units sold and up 7 percent in dollars sold compared to the 2012/2013 season.

Equipment sales—at $867 million—were the highest the market has seen since 2010/2011 when $913 million in snowsports hard goods were sold. Apparel sales hit $1.5 billion, down 2 percent in units sold and up 4 percent in dollars sold. And accessories sales reached $1.3 billion, up 7 percent in units sold and up 14 percent in dollars sold

Here are some of the notable trends from the RetailTRAK

  • Alpine Touring/Randonee equipment sales increased 8 percent in dollars and units sold. Lack of snow in the Sierras likely stalled backcountry equipment sales in California.
  • Sales of Alpine/AT boots, which may be one of hottest items in the alpine market, are up 27 percent to 93,000 units sold, and up 21 percent in dollars sold to $37 million. Alpine/AT boots make up nearly 16 percent of dollars sold and 12 percent of units sold in the alpine boot market.
  • Sales of women’s cross-country equipment increased 32 percent in units and 28 percent in dollars sold to over $6 million.
  • Junior girls snowboarding equipment sales grew 37 percent in units and 36 percent in dollars sold. Overall, snowboard equipment sales are flat in dollars sold to $256 million.
  • Backcountry accessories sales including beacons, probes and shovels increased 12 percent in units and dollars sold.
  • Sales of action cameras were up 10 percent in units sold to 121,000 cameras and up 20 percent in dollars sold to $41 million.
  • Alpine insulated tops sales were up 13 percent in dollars sold to $529 million and up 8 percent in units to more than 3 million units sold.
  • Apparel accessories including gloves, baselayer, headwear, neck gaiters, etc. increased 7 percent in units sold and 11 percent in dollars sold to $664 million.

Snowsports sales were healthy through the 2013/2014 winter, but drought conditions in California dragged on the market throughout the season. Record cold temperatures in the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and even the in the Deep South drove apparel accessories sales higher. Snow and cold temperatures explain about 3/4 of the variance in snowsports sales season to season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are already noting a heightened possibility for El Niño conditions during the 2014/2015 winter. Although it is far too early to make serious predictions, that would bode well for the drought-stricken Sierras.