By  on May 25, 2007

ATLANTA — Apparel sales helped save snowsports specialty stores this year, according to a retail audit by the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) trade group.

“This season was a weather-driven roller coaster, and equipment sales suffered from it,” said Kelly Davis, research manager for SIA. “But apparel sales bolstered the market. At season’s end, total dollar sales in specialty stores were down by just one percent compared to last season.”

Specialty stores finished the August through March selling season with $1.8 billion in sales, buoyed by strong early and late season sales in the East and Midwest and consistently strong sales in the Rockies and West.

Apparel sales rose 8 percent during the season, while equipment sales fell 9 percent in specialty stores. The advantage of apparel, the SIA said in its report, is that “it appeals to a much broader customer base and is as likely to be seen in the checkout lines as it is in the lift lines. Apparel is fashionable and people are constantly updating their wardrobes to keep up with the times and/or Jones.”

Unit sales of softshell parkas rose 33 percent and fleece tops rose 34 percent. Dollar sales for women’s apparel in specialty stores surged 83 percent from $140 million to $285 million, while sales for men’s apparel rose 5 percent.

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