How Is Our Garden Growing?

Post by blogger | March 11, 2009      
Colorado backcountry skiing

A few hours ago, Scott Nelson near Marble, Colorado.

Out gear testing and skiing today, I couldn’t help noticing more people around (though we had room for everyone). Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) industry sales report (year’s end 2008) tidbits came in from a reader, here are a couple excerpts and a take by an industry insider. You might like seeing growth in backcountry skiing, you might not. Check out the facts and laugh or weep depending on your persuasion.

* “Backcountry equipment, consisting of skins, probes, shovels, beacons and accessories brought in $6.8M for the year [2008]. The category grew 22% in units and 19% in dollars.”
* “Randonee/ AT boots, bindings and skis sold $2M altogether and increased sales by 5% in units and 11% in dollars over 2007.”

Insider says something like this: “The worst category was sandals. We saw that coming a mile away. Retailers were filling their walls with every kind of sandal – simple/earthy sandals, dress sandals, travel sandals, hiking sandals, biking sandals, Dynafit-compatible AT sandals. We were losing shelf space to sandals. It makes me a bit optimistic for 2010. People need durable, functional gear and we CAN provide that.”


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11 Responses to “How Is Our Garden Growing?”

  1. Clyde March 11th, 2009 3:12 pm

    You might want to check the dates on that report to see when it actually covers. For a variety of reasons, the numbers OIA and SIA put out aren’t particularly reliable in our tiny corner of the ski world.

  2. Dongshow March 11th, 2009 9:59 pm

    19 percent growth is pretty incredible, I guess there’s been signs the ski industry was going this direction. I look forward to the fuss that ensues when the 10 percent increase in avalanche fatalities comes around. I’ve heard some ridiculous things in the backcountry lately, all good fun I guess though.

  3. Tucker March 12th, 2009 7:09 am

    “Dynafit-compatible AT sandals”? Perfect for spring skiing! Where do I find these?

  4. Sean March 12th, 2009 8:58 am

    Analysis of “economic” conditions, while ignoring the collapse of the American economy, is pointless.

    I’m sure that many of we who ski are concerned with what equipment is available to buy next season, but unless analysis covers what’s actually happening in America, it’s not really useful.

    the “growth” in backcountry ski gear is quite simply explained. it is an extension of the past 10 years of obsessive SUV-buying to give city-trapped yuppies a feeling of being “outdoorsy” people. escapism, in other words.

    SUVs are expensive, so the next best thing is to own backcountry equipment and ski it at the lift-served area, to give the same sort of “outdoorsy” appearance.

    anyone who relies upon such specious “growth” and considers it an “indicator” of what’s to come, well, they’re just seeing only what they want to see.

    I know this isn’t an economics blog, but it seems to me that painting a picture of the American economy or any segment thereof should require painting reality, not a fiction.

    for example, where is the evidence that ski equipment is immune from economic collapse?

  5. Shane March 12th, 2009 9:53 am

    Sean, normally I would think that much of your post was the result of a somewhat elitist, anti-city folk, attitude.

    However, a few days ago a was skiing at Big Sky with a guy who is looking to sell a pair of skis and Marker Duke AT bindings because, as he said “I’ve never used them for BC skiing, I just like riding lifts too much”.

    I also know another guy who outfitted his wife with a brand new AT set up last year. To my knowledge, she hasn’t ventured out on a true BC trip yet.

    You may be onto something.

  6. Lou March 12th, 2009 11:09 am

    Clyde, it’s the year end report for 2008, I clarified that with a few edits. Agree that the numbers from those jokers are suspect to some degree, but they’re good as general guidelines are they not?

  7. Clyde March 12th, 2009 11:38 am

    I suspected it was calendar year. So the end of a good season with a decent economy and the beginning of an average season before the economy tanked. SIA is a bit better about reporting season to season numbers. But they only get the alpine shops and chains, while OIA only gets the outdoor shops with a little overlap in chains. Until recently, neither were even asking good questions about our niche so that also skews the numbers (some of the “growth” was just discovering what had been going on for a while).

    Ultimately ski and related sales have less to do with the economy, or any one company doing something right, and more to do with snow fall. Lots of snow and all sales managers look brilliant. Little snow, or snow at the wrong time, and it doesn’t matter how well the general economy is doing. The telling part about this season is how much inventory shops clear out or carryover in Feb and March. Those numbers come out in May.

  8. FrameNZ March 13th, 2009 5:48 am

    32.7% of North American and 29.3% of Europeans males over the age of 22 know you can say anything with statistics. :o)

    Still I think touring is on the increase, my usage alone is up 200% this season.

  9. Randonnee March 13th, 2009 8:50 am

    Touring gear on lifts has been fashionable here in WA for years as a growing trend. Thankfully I agree as stated lots of those users do not go touring. With the recent increase in randonnee gear over tele in the backcountry in my observation, I think that one sees a higher percentage use of heavy tele gear in the local ski area! In that same ski area there seem to be lots of folks with touring gear who see their touring as inbounds ridge walks and some sidecountry. All good, they may leave the untracked backcountry for me and my friends!

  10. David Barton March 13th, 2009 3:24 pm

    Backcountry skiing is the new thing to do! Everyone in the outdoor recreation industry now dreams of getting there. Everyone be lucky you hit it early – it’s only going to grow bigger and bigger.

    Think Snow!

    PSIA Ski Instructor

  11. Lou March 13th, 2009 3:34 pm

    I’m looking for the Dynafit compatible sandals. Will do an extensive comparo when we find them, probably worth three blog posts (grin).

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