2010 winter sports season ends in black for retailers

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Higher prices – not more sales – marked the 2009-2010 winter sports season.

Nationally, retailers sold $2.9 billion this season, up from $2.8 billion a year ago, according to information from Snow Sport Industries of America, a trade group for winter sports. That increase wasn’t due to more items being sold, unit sales were down 4 percent. But equipment, apparel and accessories cost more this season.

Before the season started, orders were down between 10 to 40 percent, and inventories started out 9 percent leaner than the previous season.

Apparel led sales at $1.1 billion, with accessories folliwng at $1 billion . Equipment has been undersold since 2006, the industry said. Alpine and Nordic sales were up wile telemark skis saw a slip in sales.

Trends from the 2009 season:
– Fat skis are in. Skis with fat waists moved faster, with sales increasing more than 30 percent.
– Snowboard sales were down 7 percent this season.
– Backcountry ski equipment was up 57 percent in both items sold and in the cost of the products.
– Safety seems to be getting attention from consumers. Helmets saw reecord sales with more than 1.1 million sold through February.

The bargains for the 2009-2010 winter seaon weren’t on the Internet – prices for equipment, apparel and accessories were close to those at brick-and-mortar specialty stores – and higher than the prices in chain stores.

Online sales leveled off to a 1 percent increase the report said.

Western states saw an increase in the dollar amount sold of $23.5 million more dollars. Fewer skis, snowboards and apparel sold at higher prices, driving up margins.