Lack of snow hurts ski sales
This winter has been difficult for sports retailers. In much of Finland there was snow for only a short time.
"And then when it came, the temperature plummeted. During the ski holiday, potential buyers of skis and outdoor clothing went to indoor swimming pools instead", sighs Tuija Lindvall, proprietor of the Intersport sporting goods store at the Jumbo shopping mall near Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.
On Wednesday Lindvall attended the annual purchasing fair for shops of the Intersport chain in Espoo. During a few days, the approximately 50 owners of Intersport shops will choose the products to take in their inventory next winter.
This spring the task is especially challenging, because much of the past winter's equipment remains unsold. They should be sold at a discount at the beginning of the next season.
The winter's fickle weather is also reflected in the sales figures of ski manufacturers. Mikko Santtila, product chief of Atomic Ski, says that retailers did not replenish their stocks during the winter this year, and orders for the next season have been "moderate".
Sales have been hurt especially in Central Finland, where there had been more snow than in southern areas in previous years; retailers in the south have already grown used to winters of little snow.
Santtila says that while orders for next year are fairly good, there is a big struggle going on for market shares.
Atomic has a market share of about 25 per cent in the types of products that it produces.
In Savonlinna in the southeast of Finland, retailer Jyry Vepsäläinen describes the winter as unusual. Sales of cross-country and downhill skiing equipment were up to 20 per cent less than in a normal winter.
"There was no real winter, and now we are selling the spring. Only to those travelling to Lapland are buying skis."
The winter was unusual up north as well.
"Even we didn't have snow before Christmas", explains Jukka Savo, proprietor of an Intersport outlet in Rovaniemi.
Sales of skiing equipment in Finnish Lapland will continue until Easter. Cross country skis are the biggest item. Sales of snowboards are down, while freestyle skis have grown more popular.
For next winter Savo expects to order between 500 and 1,000 pairs of cross-country skis, and 250 - 500 pairs of downhill skis.
Running shoes are not sold in Finnish Lapland, but in the south of Finland, their sales have continued throughout the winter. Sales of cross-country and downhill skiing equipment declined by more than ten percent this year, while shoe sales grew by the same amount.
Clothing accounts for more than 40 per cent of turnover of many sporting goods stores.
Tuija Lindvall says that most of the clothing needs to be ordered in advance, because their manufacture begins immediately after the orders are made.
It can sometimes be impossible to replenish stocks in mid-season.
Shops have largely given up on efforts to sell winter clothes at massive discounts. "It doesn't matter what kind of a price tag there is on a pair of quilted trousers. Nobody is buying them anyway", Lindvall says.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Tuesday was a record warm day in Southern Finland (14.3.2007)
Global warming: Disgust at the barber shop (1.2.2007)
Warm winter eliminates threat of electricity shortage and high prices (3.1.2007)
Record warm December in Finland (3.1.2007)
Tourists have to make do with man-made snow in Finnish Lapland (5.12.2006)