SIA’s Numbers Through January: The Silver Lining

Like me, you probably got the SIA press release this morning with the snow sport industry’s numbers through January. And, if you’re like me, you know that SIA always cherry picks the good news and leads with those numbers, so you immediately clicked through to the Leisure Trends web site where, as an SIA member, you can see the actual top line numbers.

What those numbers show is that through January, sales in dollars were down 4.5% to $2.657 billion compared to the same period last year. What you will also see, however, is that unit sales for the same period are down 12.2%. In chain stores, the dollar decline was 10.6% while units fell 17.2%. Specialty dollar sales fell 7.5% while units were off 15.6%

I’m sure you’ll all be stunned to learn that internet sales grew 12% in dollars and 10% in units.
If you break the numbers down by equipment, apparel and accessories, you see the same pattern.
Well, not a great year. But we all knew when our snow dances didn’t work that it wasn’t going to be.
What I want to point to, however, is that for all three categories in chain and specialty, the decline in dollars was less than the decline in units sold. Why? Because we’re genius sales people in tough conditions? I hope so, but doubt it.
Prices held up because two year ago and more as an industry we made some decisions to control inventory. We benefitted this year from decisions we made way back when. How would we be talking right now if the revenue decline had equaled the unit decline? Ugly would be an understatement. Imagine having lower revenue and higher inventories.
I’m not trying to cheer you up in what’s a poor year no matter how you look at it. But this is a clear example of the benefit of considering the impact of your decisions beyond a week, a month, or even a season. True, we were all kind of terrorized by the economy into managing our inventories better, but look at the long term benefits in terms of inventory, working capital investment, and consumer perception of the product.
Find some time to think longer term. The benefits are amazing.