New SIA data paints a mixed picture for the snowsports industry

A new survey from Snowsports Industries America indicates some meaningful changes among winter sports consumers this year.
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SIA's new report provides some insight into the coming months for the snowsports industry.

SIA's new report provides some insight into the coming months for the snowsports industry.

Snowsports Industries America released the first installment of a large, two-part consumer insights report this week, a look into changing behaviors and expectations among winter sports enthusiasts.

The survey, titled “The Impacts of COVID-19 on Snowsports Consumer Trends and Insights," was conducted online in mid-July and collected a total of 1,209 responses, mostly from attendees of recent snow shows—not a representative sample by any means, but likely a highly engaged one.

For businesses involved in the snowsports industry, the results are solidly mixed, with some data inspiring confidence about the upcoming season, and others indicating that shifting business strategies may be needed to cope with changes in the winter sports consumer landscape.

Below is a breakdown of the report's key findings.

Consumer confidence

First, some good news. The results of the survey clearly show that consumer confidence in snowsports participation outpaces confidence in the U.S. economy more generally. People are excited to get out, and believe they will be able to do so at higher numbers than expected, given the general outlook on the country's economic direction. 

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Change in participation

Also good news: Snowsports participants expect their participation levels to increase in the months and years to come. However, enthusiasts in other outdoor categories reported the same, and with much stronger numbers. Relatively speaking, the expected 31 percent boost in snowsports participation may actually qualify as a disappointing result, though it does beat out a couple of other relevant categories like climbing and watersports.

Of particular importance for ski resorts: The highest expected snowsports participation increases pertain to off-resort categories like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter running. Resort skiing and snowboarding rank dead last in expected participation increase.

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Spending changes

Travel spending is expected to slide significantly, though spending on outdoor gear may remain comparatively stable. Still, responses show an expected 9 percent decline in outdoor gear spending—not an insignificant number.

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Shopping habits

Brick-and-mortar snowsports retailers can expect a lasting change in shopping behavior, with a significant number of consumers who preferred in-person shopping before the pandemic shifting their preferences. 

While the number of shoppers who said they're more likely to buy snowsports equipment online doesn't appear to have been affected by the pandemic long-term, the number of shoppers who have an equal preference for online and in-person shopping has increased dramatically.

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Customer safety desires

Finally, for those customers who are visiting brick-and-mortar stores again, mask-wearing ranks first in their preference for observed safety protocols, followed by frequent sanitization and room for social distancing among customers.

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Full results and part two

The video below explains more of the methodology used to collect these results, and what they might mean for the industry in the months to come.

The full report, free for SIA Premium members, is also available to other SIA members at preferred rates, here, and non-members, here.

The second installment of the two-part survey, conducted online in mid-August, is planned for release in February 2021.

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