Today, SnowSports Industries America (SIA) and Leisure Trends Group released SIA RetailTRAK numbers for August through October 2012, showing that the market declined 2 percent, but reached $616M in sales so far this season.
This 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 2011/2012 season. Over the past four seasons, retail sales from August 1 to October 31 account for approximately 15 percent of total season sales and tend to be indicative of momentum from the previous season.
Comparing only the month of October 2012 to October 2011 (rather than the period Aug – Oct), retail sales declined 5 percent in units and 4 percent in dollars sold—about $13M less in October 2012 compared to October 2011 for all apparel, accessories and equipment retail sales.
Apparel sales increased slightly (1 percent) reaching $161M, and accessories sales including goggles, gloves, wax, hats and cameras fell 4 percent. October 2012 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 $4M or 8 percent for the month of October.
According to SIA, one of the major reasons for the slowdown may have been Hurricane Sandy. 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 $14M (26 percent) decline in October dollar sales and the South saw snow sports sales slip $6M (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.
Obviously, the report retail report concluded, “few persons affected directly by this mega-storm were thinking about buying new snow sports equipment.”