As summer officially ends, snowfall appears in the forecast for the Rockies, and retailers begin to report steady sales of new gear, SNEWS got on the phone with SIA President David Ingemie on the last day of September 2011 for a quick commuter chat about what should be a very interesting year in snowsports.
SNEWS: What kind of shape is the industry in?
David Ingemie: I think we are in good shape. I’m probably more concerned about next year than I am about this year, especially looking at how the rising cost of goods on the manufacturer and supplier side will continue to affect how they do business. At the same time, if the economy continues to go in the direction it has been going--which, according to the media is going to be down or even flat for the foreseeable future--then even the overall skiing demographic, which has held up pretty good so far, could really feel the impact.
For this season, all indications on preseason sales are good. From firsthand experience, I can’t believe how much new stuff is walking out the door. Also that it is happening this early in the year. I think people are pumped with excitement for freeskiing, and also for snowboarding again. And there’s definitely a better understanding of the need to update your equipment. I was on the golf course with a woman who found out I work in the industry and she said she just bought a new pair of skis and boots. She said, “I switch my skis every three years.” And the conversation I keep hearing is how people can’t wait to get on the hill.
SNEWS: What are you bullish about?
DI: I’m bullish because it seems so many people want to get outside and do more. If anything there seems to be a pent up demand for getting outdoors. I think that if by the time we get to Christmas we’ve had plenty of snow, then people will get excited about getting outdoors even more. Across the country we’ve been talking a lot about the weather over the past year, from the late summer in some places to the tornadoes in the Midwest and the hurricane in New England, and hopefully as we head into winter, we can just start talking about the snow.
SNEWS: What are you bearish about?
DI: I’m bearish about how the media is so fixated on the economy and on just reporting the negative side of everything. With the campaign coming up, all of that is only going to be magnified. It seems to me that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, all you see right now are the two sides beating up on each other, and that’s the exact opposite of what our industry is about. I’m bearish about how that media’s focus on negativity might spill into our business too.
SNEWS: Where do you see the next wave of “growing the sport” possibilities?
DI: The opportunities right now are with the retailers. They now have very current inventory, with great new technology and benefits for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, and they have to communicate that to the consumers. The suppliers also need to connect to the customer, and say it’s the best time ever to buy because of all of the innovations there are. The mountains have done their job in terms of initiatives and instruction and discounts, but it’s the retailer who is talking to the consumer right now.
SNEWS: Any predictions for the 2012 Snow Show?
DI: I’m really excited about a lot of things for this show. I’m excited about all of the new technology coming in--and I’ve already seen several exciting developments--and also the expansion of different brands as well as the addition of new exhibitors. Having companies like K2 celebrating their 50th anniversary just adds to the excitement this year. And it’s interesting to see what new markets different brands are trying to cover, and how people are doing a better job highlighting what their brand stands for. As for Denver, I keep hearing people talk about what great restaurants they’ve discovered, or how great the people are, and now in our third year, it really does feel like home.
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