Manufacturers’ deliveries of skis, boots and bindings to the trade grew for the third year in a row during the winter 2018/19 season, according to an annual study recently released by the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (Fesi). Some analysts expect the trend to continue to be positive for the next few

(SGI) Globally, Fesi estimates that total volumes went up by around 10 percent in 2018/19 as compared to the prior season, with growth of 16.9 percent for skis alone to a total of 3.7 million pairs.

In Austria – the season’s second-largest market for alpine skis, after the U.S. and ahead of France and Germany – manufacturers were able to deliver a total of 432,656 pairs of alpine skis, or 12 percent of the world’s total, according to the Austrian Association of Sporting Goods Manufacturers and Suppliers (VSSÖ). This compares with only around 392,000 pairs in the previous season.

Fesi’s winter sports committee indicates that similar trends were observed in other European markets except the U.K. In the European Union, the biggest gains were recorded in Italy, Spain and Sweden.

On a continental basis, Europe is traditionally the strongest sales market, with an estimated 48 million alpine skiers, followed by North America, the Asia-Pacific region, South America and the Middle East & Africa.

For the ongoing season, VSSÖ expects new growth, especially in the ski-rental sector. In the last season, already 60 percent of the skis sold in Austria were used for rental. Especially in tourist regions, people are increasingly renting skis or ski sets, with boots and bindings, for their holidays or for the entire season. At the same time, customers are becoming more demanding. According to the VSSÖ, they are paying more attention to quality and thus considering more expensive equipment.

The increase in the rental sector can be observed in all countries where alpine ski tourism is economically relevant. The worldwide demand for touring skis has also been growing consistently in recent years. In Austria, according to VSSÖ, sales of touring ski boots in particular more than doubled in only two years.

The online publication Business Wire, citing a market research report by Technavio, reports that the size of the ski-equipment market is expected to post a compound annual growth rate of over 1 percent during the 2019-2023 period. The increasing number of skiers globally is one of the primary reasons for market growth. According to the same source, the number of people visiting ski resorts has increased significantly in recent years, thanks to an increasing interest in skiing.

In the U.S., one of the countries with the most ski resorts, the number of visitors to skiing regions increased by about 11 percent from 2018 to 2019, and the increases in the number of both skiers and ski resorts will help drive the growth of the ski-equipment market.

In developing economies with big populations, such as China and India, the popularity of alpine skiing has increased over the last few years, boosted partly by various government initiatives or major upcoming events, such as the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The Indian government has announced plans to construct new skiing areas in the country’s mountainous regions, which should increase access to the sport and thus its popularity.

It remains to be seen how the current ski season will play out. In the Central Alps and even Japan, snowfall has not come up to expectations. Against the background of the climate-change discussion, consumers are questioning the practice of skiing more now than ever before. Recent statistics that we have come across suggest that younger people are growing less attracted to snow sports, even to snowboarding. The VSSÖ sees potential for more positive trends, especially in terms of sustainability, and also in the area of safety.