Skiing: Backcountry gear sales double from last year

Snowsports retail sales on pace for new record

Good snow and a recovering economy are driving snowsports retail sales to new records this season.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with skier visits, the industry’s retail sector also appears to be making a nice recovery from the recession, with total sales in January exceeding $500 million for a new monthly record, according to a press release from Snowsports Industries America.

That followed sales of more than $1 billion in December for a season-to-date total of $2.6 billion, 16 percent more than last season. The West led the way, with sales were up 31 percent in equipment dollars sold, 17 percent in apparel and 19 percent in accessories sales.

One of the biggest growth sectors was in the realm of backcountry gear, and more specifically, alpine-touring set-ups, where sales for the year-to-date grew an astounding 102 percent from the previous season. Sales of crosscountry and telemark gear also climbed.

There was also less discounting this year, helping retailers boost revenue.  Alpine equipment sales are up 25 percent in dollars and 14 percent in units sold season-to-date. And the fat-ski boom continues, with sales of alpine boards with waists wider than 80 mm up a solid 50 percent.

Snowboard sales also climbed as riders catch the rocker board wave. More than half of the 428,000 boards sold through January this season are reverse camber/rocker snowboards. Boards in the “All Mountain” category brought in 32 percent more dollars compared to the same period last season.

Apparel sales also are strong this season as snowy La Niña conditions kept skiers and riders (and all who want to look like they spend time on the slopes) chilled.  All apparel sales are up 12 percent compared to last season in dollars sold. Accessories sales increased more than 16 percent led by very strong surges in goggles, helmets, backcountry accessories, and gloves.

Overall, the snow sports market is enjoying excellent sales this season and is on track to set a new sales record, according to SIA.

2010/2011 Season Trends
•    Alpine skis (flat skis sold without bindings) in the 80mm-110mm waist width category are up 60 percent in dollars sold on more than 50,000 units compared to 24,000 units through January last season.
•    AT/Randonee equipment sales have doubled compared to last season in units and in dollars to more than $13 million in sales in snow sports channels and up more than 50 percent in outdoor specialty shops this season to $8.6 million in that sales channel.
•    Reverse/Mixed camber ski sales are up 150 percent in units and in dollars to more than 40,000 units sold through January.
•    Reverse camber snowboard sales are up 50 percent in units and 54 percent in dollars sold.  Reverse camber is the new norm in snowboard; 62 percent of all snowboards sold are rocker/reverse camber so far this season.
•    Snowboard apparel tops up 15 percent in dollars sold.
•    Insulated parka sales surged 23 percent in units sold and 25 percent in dollars sold through January as La Niña conditions pounded most of the U.S. with cold temperatures and snowfall.
•    Goggles sales surge up 22 percent in units sold to 1,454,000 pairs.


5 thoughts on “Skiing: Backcountry gear sales double from last year

  1. Wait, what are you talking about here?

    Your info doesn’t really match the title. No mention of backcountry avalanche equipment, splitboards, or telemark. Wass this written by someone from Kansas visiting the SIA show? Selling more rockered skis/boards, googles, insulated parkas, skis with 80mm+ waist (aren’t they all nowadays) have no bearing on backcountry user numbers.

    Any info on Telemark gear? It seems that AT gear sales will be surpassing telemark sooner than later if it hasn’t already. How about splitboards?

    Maybe change the title to “Gear sales double from last year”

    1. Can’t argue with you too much, a bad and hasty job of editing … There is a graph in there about sales of AT/Randonee gear climbing 102 percent from last season, year-to-date, but it was kinda buried. I moved it up higher in the story. As for the headline, I was looking for the most compelling fact from the story. Thanks for the reality check! I’ll check back to see if I can get some details on tele gear sales. In the past, SIA has said that, because it’s such a small sector of the greater market, it’s tough to track separately, and the anecdotal info I’ve seen from individual retailers over the years is notoriously unreliable.

      1. Bob,
        I’ve had a lot of coffee this morning so excuse my harshness. Love your reporting, this one just didn’t seem up to par.


        1. And I was perturbed by the FO-CAIC post of FB claiming that there are so many people without the right equipment. I don’t think they read the article.

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