With ski areas in the U.S. reporting record-breaking snow fall, Mother Nature has been good to the snow sports market so far this season. Winter/snow sports gear sales grew 7% from August through December 2018, to $4.3 billion, according to The NPD Group.
“The weather has been very favorable to snow-loving consumers and the snow sports industry this season. As long as the conditions are right, consumers will be inclined to make purchases,” says Matt Powell, VP and senior industry advisor, sports, The NPD Group. “With time still left to hit the slopes, I expect the industry will end the season with strong sales growth.”
According to Snowsports Industries America (SIA), 24.3 million Americans ages six and older participated in winter sports during the 2017/2018 winter season, a 1.5% decrease from the previous year. Poor weather was among the top three reasons for not participating, further illustrating how climate may affect the market.
Apparel experiences double-digit growth
At the supercategory level, equipment and footwear sold within the snow chain, specialty, and internet retail channels grew during these five months of the season, but it was apparel that contributed the majority of dollars gained. All apparel product categories including outerwear, socks, handwear, and headwear experienced double-digit growth.
“Premium outerwear, in particular, has been a standout category this fall. Clean inventories combined with fresh looks have been key factors,” Powell says.
In terms of equipment sales, snowboarding was a standout performer and provided the highest gains. Snowboard equipment sales reached $232.8 million from August through December, up 13% over the same period last year, with double-digit sales gains for snowboards as well as boots and bindings.
Women’s sales outpace men’s, juniors
Some major brands—including Burton with its “Stand Up, Stand Out” marketing initiatives—are placing greater focus on their women’s business. Women’s snowboard equipment sales were the fastest-growing segment of the market—outpacing men’s and juniors—with sales up 18% so far this season.
“I often say that women’s is an underserved market across many facets of the sports industry, but it brings with it big opportunity for brands and retailers to grow their business,” Powell adds. “Brands today are finding their sweet spot by getting behind particular social or environmental initiatives that are of growing concern for today’s consumers.”