The SnowSports Industries America reported a sobering assessment for the upcoming snow season and the impact of weak sales and increased discounting during the past season.
In its report on the 2008/2009 season, the trade group said the recession could have a major impact on stores and brands.
"The peculiarities of this recession resulted in strangled credit markets, higher costs and reduced sales in the snow sports market that had significant negative impacts on both retailers and suppliers," the SIA said. "Additionally, first indications of pre-season order activity for next season suggest that retailers are not betting heavily on increased sales for the 2009/10 season. As a result of this season's lackluster results, we anticipate some consolidation of retail shops, reduction in chain store fronts, and consolidation of brands."
Overall, sales fell 5 percent to $2.8 billion.
The current season equipment category was the weakest performer, with retailers selling 75,000 fewer alpine skis, 8,000 fewer Nordic skis and 34,000 fewer snowboards.
Accessories sales were close to last year's totals, the SIA said. Increased discounting was the theme of the season as illustrated by apparel sales, which increased 2 percent in units but fell 6 percent in dollar sales.
The only distribution channel where sales increased was the Internet. Specialty chains were especially hard hit, with that channel selling 2 million fewer units of goods. The accessories category was especially impacted, with 1.6 million fewer units sold.
Chain stores sold 302,1000 fewer units, with equipment the weakest category.
The Internet saw unit sales increase by 1.1 million, with increased results for every category.
Ominously, unsold inventory of equipment as of March 31 was up 19 percent in dollars and 12 percent in units vs. last year.
If you are interested in finding out more about the past season, SIA and Leisure Trends Group will host the SIA Snow Sports Market Intelligence - Results for the 2008/09 Season on Tuesday, May 19th at 1pm E.D.T. For more information about this event contact Kelly Davis, SIA's Director of Research at KDavis@snowsports.org.