“People will be itching to get away this winter! We are also expecting a lot of Australians to be travelling over to New Zealand in July and August, particularly Queenstown.”
The New Zealand government recently granted border exemptions to allow 100 highly skilled ski field workers to enter the country. Without them, New Zealand’s ski resorts warned, they wouldn’t be able to operate at full capacity.
Across the ditch in Australia, ski resorts are preparing to open on June 12 for a ‘Covid normal season’, the Australian Ski Areas Association said on its website. However, the current ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Melbourne highlights how precarious the situation still is.
New season, new look
As consumers head to the mountains in the southern hemisphere, snow gear brands like Superdry are hoping they’ll splash out on new clothing and equipment.
This year, however, brands won’t be able to analyse sales data and trends from the northern hemisphere winter to guide their buying and marketing strategy.
“Given that the UK was in lockdown from December, and most of Europe limited in terms of travel, it’s been a difficult season to get any sort of read,” Hampson said.
“That said, the snow range for Superdry continues to go from strength to strength both from an aesthetic and technical perspective and we have seen continued double digit growth in the category.”
Last year, Superdry doubled down on its snow range, with a move into boards, skis and helmets through a partnership with US snowboard and ski brand, Gilson.
“This partnership shows our dedication to the snow category and to snow performance in general beyond the traditional bounds of fashion retail,” Hampson said.
With vaccination efforts in Europe and North America well underway, brands are also anticipating a strong ski season on that side of the equator later this year.
“It was a tough year for everyone. No-one remembers a winter with no skiing,” Simone Pompilio, French ski brand Rossignol’s general manager for Greater China, told Inside Retail.
“We are expecting a great rebound worldwide and we are sure that with the Covid under control, the EU and Noram [North America] will prosper.”
The upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is expected to provide an added boost to the sport in China, where the government aims to create 300 million winter sport enthusiasts before the games begin.
“The China market will be really busy this upcoming winter because of the Olympics,” Pompilio said.
“We have plans to run a demo tour in major ski resorts as well as a few events and pop-up stores in Beijing to celebrate the event.”
Rossignol also plans to open a flagship store in Taizicheng, where the Olympic celebrations will be hosted, to help establish the brand with affluent young consumers getting into the sport.
“The market is growing but the general absolute base is not massive. We see kids picking up the practice and they will be the consumers of tomorrow,” Pompilio said.
Not just skiing and snowboarding
Before Covid-19 hit, the winter sports industry reportedly experienced its “best season of the current millennium” in 2018-19.
Market research firm Technavio thinks this trend will continue, with the global winter sports equipment sector expected to increase by US$834.99 million, at a CAGR of over 5 per cent during 2021-2025.
Growth is being driven by the rising number of women participating in winter sports and increased interest in alternative sports, such as figure skating, cross-country skiing and ice hockey, according to Technavio.
A new $300 million indoor snow resort being built in the western Sydney suburb of Penrith will introduce even more people to the full breadth of winter sports when it opens in 2025. Plans for the facility not only include a 300-metre indoor ski slope, but also an Olympic-size rink for ice skating, ice hockey and speed skating, as well as curling and ice and rock climbing.