By  on July 25, 2007

Let it snow — early.

That's the hope of businesses catering to the ski crowd this winter. Whether isolated bad luck or the result of global warming, last year's light, late snow season in much of the country served as a wake-up call for skiwear manufacturers and retailers who are discovering the dramatic downside of hyperspecialization. Many of the dozen ski-centric stores WWD surveyed suffered their worst season in years, with some reporting retail sales dips of more than 30 percent. The lone bright spot: the luxury sector, in which high-end specialty stores in resort towns are coming off a strong year, success they attribute to the fashionable merchandise that translates well off the mountain, as well as to a base of consumers whose buying habits are not tied to local snow conditions.

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