SIA Retail Audit: Specialty Stores Benefit From Strong Sell-Throughs In Apparel Category

Overall sales for the entire winter sport market (including specialty and chain stores), were up 6% in dollars to $2.2 billion for the August 2005 through February 2006 period, compared to $2.1 billion reported last year, according to the SIA Retail Audit. Unit sales were up 7%. Sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops were up 5% in dollars compared to last season. In dollars, that translates to $1.7 billion in sales compared to $1.6 billion for the same period last season. Unit sales were up from last season 5%.
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MCLEAN, Va. (April 18, 2006) – Overall sales for the entire winter sport market (including specialty and chain stores), were up 6% in dollars to $2.2 billion for the August 2005 through February 2006 period, compared to $2.1 billion reported last year, according to the SIA Retail Audit. Unit sales were up 7%. Sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops were up 5% in dollars compared to last season. In dollars, that translates to $1.7 billion in sales compared to $1.6 billion for the same period last season. Unit sales were up from last season 5%. “Warm weather east of the Rockies slowed early season momentum, though the declines were still not enough to completely erase the early season gains. Integrated systems and apparel continued to drive specialty store sales as high sell-throughs in many categories have left many specialty retailers with leaner inventories,” said Christine Martinez, market research manager for SIA, the not-for-profit industry trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors of snow sports products. The SIA Retail Audit tracks and reports sales in all snow sports product categories. This is the fifth report of six that look at sales through March 31, 2006, the end of the winter season.

INSULATED PARKAS 73% SOLD-THROUGH BY END OF FEBRUARY
Continuing their strong start this season, specialty apparel sales (including tops, bottoms, suits and snowboard) are ahead 8% in dollars as compared to the same August through February period last season. By the end of February 2006, apparel sales totaled $540.3 million.

Insulated parka sales rose 9% in dollars this season over last with sales reaching $138.7 million by the end of February. Women's and junior insulated parkas, specifically, showed considerable dollar gains, each sub-category up 13% and 9%, respectively, over last period. Women's continue to lead the category with $67.3 million in sales. Through February, women's units outsold men's 1.5 to 1. Juniors accounted for a significant 17% of all insulated parka dollars sold this season. At the end of February, all insulated parkas were 73% sold-through, two points behind last season at this time.

Softshell parka sales continue to thrive in specialty and chain stores. Dollar sales jumped 39% when comparing this period to the same period a year ago, reaching $21.7 million in sales by the end of February.

As with insulated parkas, the softshell parka category attributed their increase to women's and junior parkas. Women's and junior's demonstrated impressive dollar increases, 79% and 654%, respectively. Women's softshell sales accounted for 36% of all softshell dollars sold, up from 28% last season-to-date. At the end of February, softshells were 69% sold-through, up from 65% a year ago at this time.

Shell parkas continue to hold their own with a moderate 16% dollar gain over the same August through February period last year. Sales grew to $54.7 million by the end of February. Junior shell parkas are gaining in popularity, up 38% in dollar sales over last season. Even with the dramatic sales increase, juniors only accounted for 4% of all shell dollars sold.

Vests (no fleece) and fleece (includes vests) continue to generate the increase in sales which began last season. Dollar sales were up for both categories, 32% and 15%, respectively, over last season. Vests were 77% sold-through at the end of February.

Apparel bottoms increased 4% in dollars over the same period last year with junior bottoms contributing an impressive dollar gain of 23%. Insulated waist pants, accounting for 34% of all alpine bottom dollars this season (up from 28% last season), leapt 27% in dollars. Shell pants accounted for 22% of all bottom dollars sold this season and increased 7% in dollars over last season. Junior alpine bottoms, accounting for 14% of all bottom dollars sold, increased 25% in dollars over last season. Apparel suits did not fare so well, dipping 32% in dollars. Junior suits, on the other hand, performed better, up 9% in dollars as compared to last season.

Snowboard apparel sales grew 15% in dollars totaling $90.4 million in sales by the end of February. Snowboard tops and snowboard bottoms are showing promise this period over last, up 21% and 20%, respectively. At the end of February, all snowboard bottoms were 73% sold-through.

Men's snowboard tops and bottoms are leading the category with $28.7 million and $23.6 million in sales thus far. Men's tops outsold women's 1.9 to 1. In dollars, men's bottoms increased 23%, women's grew 26% and juniors fell 8%. At the end of February, men's snowboard tops were 68% sold-through, women's sell-through stood at 64% and juniors were just 38% sold-through.

DAY PACKS AND LUGGAGE CONTINUE THEIR POPULARITY THIS SEASON
The accessories category in specialty stores also grew from this period over last, up 8% in dollars and reaching $549.1 million by the end of February. The apparel accessories category increased sales 5% over the same period last year, totaling $302.2 million by the end of this period. Winter boots (up 12%), gloves (up 19%), mitts (up 15%), base layer (up 4%) and neck gaiters (up 18%) contributed to this dollar increase.

Equipment accessories increased 11% with dollar gains from goggles (up 11%), sunglasses (up 22%), snowshoes (up 18%), helmets (up 17%), technical day packs (up 29%), luggage (up 12%), wax (up 8%) and snowboard accessories (up 13%).

SNOWBOARD SALES STRONG WITH 66% SELL-THROUGH
From August through February 2006, snowboard equipment sales (including snowboards, boots and bindings) were up 5% in dollars with sales totaling $196.9 million. Snowboards (up 5% to $89.5 million), boots (up 6% to $57.6 million) and bindings (up 6% to $49.8 million) all experienced dollar increases this season over last.

At the end of February, specialty retailers were 66% sold-through and had 23% fewer snowboards in stock than they did at the end of February 2005. Freestyle boards, accounting for 45% of all board dollars sold so far this season (up from 36% last season) performed well with a dollar increase of 23%. Adult freestyle boards were 66% sold-through at the end of February.

Freeride boards, 39% of all board dollars sold, saw dollar sales increase 6% and sales totaling $36.6 million by the end of February. All mountain boards, 10% of all units sold this season, declined 15% in dollar sales with $6.9 million in sales by the end of February 2006. Carryover unit sales plunged 58% reaching $3.1 million in sales by the end of February. Season-to-date carryover boards accounted for just 5% of all boards sold, down from 12% in the same period last season.

At the end of February, snowboard boots were 63% sold-through, up from 57% at the same time last season. Adult snowboard bindings were 71% sold-through at the end of February, up from just 59% sold-through a year ago at this time. Step-in boots and bindings continued their decline this season, with 64% and 62% declines, respectively, in dollar sales over last season.

Overall equipment sales (alpine, snowboard, Nordic, Telemark and Randonee/AT) were up 1% in dollars as compared to last season with sales totaling $579.0 million from August through February 2006. In specialty stores, alpine ski equipment (including skis, ski systems, boots, bindings and poles) was flat in dollars this season over last.

Integrated system sales continue to escalate totaling $88.9 million through the end of February, an increase of 20% in dollars when comparing this period to the same period a year ago. At the end of February, retailers had 36% more integrated systems in their inventories than they did at the end of February 2005. At the end of this February, they were 66% sold-through, two points behind last year at this time.

Add integrated systems to alpine skis and total dollar sales increased 1%. Alpine skis, excluding integrated systems, fell 15% in dollars over last season, ending February with $80.0 million in sales. End- February inventory stood at 146,000 units, 44,000 fewer units than at the end of February 2005 -- a 23% decline. At the end of February, all bindingless skis were 66% sold-through.

Through February, the ratio of adult flat skis to adult integrated systems fell to 1.1 to 1; compare that to the 1.7 to 1 ratio for the same period last season-to-date. Of the 185,000 integrated systems sold season-to-date, 49% were carve skis and 42% were midfats.

Twintip ski sales continue to impress, up 58% in dollars and reaching $8.2 million in sales by the end of this period. End-February inventories were 52% greater than they were last February and the category was still 62% sold-through. Fat alpine skis continue to sell with an increase of 47% in dollars over last season. Though still a small category with only 3,300 units sold season-to-date, super fat skis leapt 138% in dollars.

Carve skis, 24% of all flat skis sold (down from 30% last season), are down 30% in dollar sales. Midfat alpine skis, 28% of all alpine ski dollars sold this season, down from 31% of all dollars last season-to-date, fell 25% in dollars when compared to the same August through February period last season.

Junior systems, 7% of all system units sold (up from 3% last season) jumped 153% in dollars. Junior skis, excluding systems, are up 16% in dollars over last season. End-February inventories stood at 39,000 units, down from 44,000 units at the end of February 2005. Added together, both junior integrated systems and skis were 69% sold-through at the end of February.

All ski carryover sales decreased a healthy 38% in dollars. End-February carryover ski inventory stood at just 14,000 units, 65% fewer units than at the same time last year.

From August through February 2006, total alpine boot sales had increased 2% in dollars ($141.4 million in sales). Through February, 564,000 pairs of alpine boots were sold -- 98,000 more units than all integrated systems and alpine skis combined.

Alpine boots aimed at intermediates grew the fastest. Dollars increased for high performance boots (up 3%), sport performance boots, (up 12%) and recreation boots (up 18%). Carryover boot sales fell 26% in dollars and accounted for 6% of all boot units sold, down from 10% for the same period in the 04/05 season. Junior boots are still going strong with dollars increasing 4% over last season. Through February, total units sold stood at 112,000 -- nearly 7,000 more units than the combined number of junior skis and junior integrated systems sold.

The growth of integrated systems has clearly resulted in a decline in sales of stand-alone bindings. Stand-alone binding sales fell 20% in dollars, totaling $26.3 million at the end of February. At the end of February, 150,000 binding units sat in retail inventory, 18% fewer units than at the end of February 2005. Add stand-alone bindings to those attached to integrated systems and total binding sales increased 8% in dollars.

DIN 8-11 bindings, 39% of all binding units sold season-to-date (down from 46% last season) fell 32% in dollars. Higher-end performance DIN 12-14 bindings (35% of all units sold so far this season) declined only 7%. Similar to junior ski sales, junior alpine binding sales grew 7% in dollars. Through February, junior binding sales totaled 86,000 units, only 6,000 units fewer than the number of junior skis sold in the same period.

The alpine pole category is up 11% in dollars over last season in part due to a 19% increase in adult poles (80% of all units sold this season).

NEW YEAR'S WARM WEATHER PUNISHES NORDIC CATEGORY
The Nordic ski equipment category is showing a decrease of 13% in dollars this season over last. Nordic skis (down 15% to $11.3 million), boots (down 16% to $9.5 million) and bindings (down 14% to $3.9 million) all experienced dollar declines. However, Nordic poles managed a 6% hike as compared to the same period last season. At the end of February, Nordic boots were only 53% sold-through. Sell-through for Nordic skis was 60% and bindings 63%.

Last season's early snow in the West may be playing a factor in the slipping sales (dollars down 15%) of Telemark ski equipment. Sales of Telemark skis, boots and bindings dropped in dollars 4%, 19% and 24%, respectively.

Specialty Store Percent Change in Dollars
August - February 05/06 vs. August - February 04/05
Alpine Skis-15%
Ski Systems+20%
Alpine Skis + Ski Systems+1%
Alpine Boots+2%
Alpine Bindings-20%
Alpine Poles+11%
Snowboards+5%
Snowboard Boots+6%
Snowboard Bindings+6%
Insulated Parkas+9%
Shell Parkas+16%
Softshell Parkas+39%
Snowboard Tops+21%
Snowboard Bottoms+20%
Goggles+11%
Helmets+17%
Apparel Accessories+5%

– SIA –
SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is the intelligent partner of the snow sports industry. SIA annually produces the SIA SnowSports Show, the largest industry trade show and networking environment, and delivers invaluable data, support and marketing products. SIA serves as the national, not-for-profit, member-owned trade association representing snow and winter sports companies. For more information, check out www.thesnowtrade.org. SnowSports Industries America, 8377-B Greensboro Drive, McLean, VA 22102-3587. Phone: (703) 556-9020, Fax: (703) 821-8276, E-mail: siamail@thesnowtrade.org

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