Snow Industry Glowing as SnowShow Begins
A cautious excitement is in the air as the 2017 SIA SnowShow opens.
Resorts across western North America have tallied record snowfalls. The Northeast is better than last year, though not in record territory.
And anecdotal evidence suggests that consumers are taking advantage, visiting mountain resorts in higher numbers and spending on hard goods, apparel, and accessories at a high clip.
“It’s epic. Ridiculously epic,” particularly in the west, said Kelly Davis, director of research for the SnowSports Industry Association, which stages the annual SnowShow trade show in Denver.
Mammoth Mountain this week crowed about reaching the record for the snowiest month in its history, with 246 inches reported by January 24 — three feet more than the previous record, set in December 2010.
Other resorts across the West are at or near record high levels, according to snow forecasting site OpenSnow.com.
While hard data on participation and spending won’t be available until the snow season is over, Davis said that anecdotal evidence points to a strong bounce-back after years of declining snow, participation, and spending.
Retailers are seeing sell-outs in some categories and some wholesalers don’t have goods to fill in-season orders.
In some parts of California, where 10% of the nation’s snowboarders live, snowboard boots and bindings are getting difficult to find, and customers are having to make second or third choices on styles and colors to gear up for their trips to the mountains.
Sales are “through the roof” compared to recent prior years, said Duke Edukas, co-owner of Surfisde Sports in Costa Mesa. “We’re running out of boots, we’re running out of everything.”
And that’s with the mid-Feburary President’s Day selling season still ahead and a snow season that could stretch into summer: Mammoth is offering free July 4 lift tickets to anyone who rides or skis this week.
SurfSide and other specialty retailers are benefiting both from the snow and from the closure of sporting goods competitors such as The Sports Authority and Sports Chalet. Both chains ran deep in snow goods and equipment rentals and repair.
Davis said anecdotal evidence also suggests that the heavy snowfall is drawing new and lapsed snowboarders and skiers to the mountains to join the hard core who rode out the previous light years.
Edukas is seeing them in the store. “Think about it. There’s almost an entire generation out there who haven’t experienced real winter in five years. There’s great snow not just in California but all over, and consumers are embracing it.
“But I’m a realist,” he said. “A snow season like this won’t happen again for another 10 years. I have to plan and buy for the averages, not to replace what we’re selling now.
“I just wish I could take some of this snow, put it in a snowbank, and save it for next year.”
Watch for our photos and reports from the SIA SnowShow this week.