Originally Posted by TallSkinnyGuy
It is amazing that these things are being said in the year after a truly spectacular year where winter started very early and was very long. Is the snow sports industry really this fragile? Even after a banner year a slow start to the next season knocks out some players? If so, seems like poor management and poor planning.
Yeah, unfortunately, the "bad years" don't make up for the good years. Maybe in a really good year you are up 15%-20% or so. People are skiing more and buying more gear, but it isn't as if everyone just ran out and purchases skis they didn't know they needed. Some do, but mostly, it is casual skiers hitting the hill 10 times in the season, instead of their normal 5. Those people are spending more money, but it isn't as if they decided to buy a new ski jacket and pants because they skied a few more days. Plus, in a good year, coverage is good and snow is soft, so repairs can be down. And, if it snows, you still need to increase overhead to work with more customers. If employees aren't good (or you have to hire inexperienced employees to beef up mid-winter), then it can be a headache and cut into profits. Bad year; crappy snow? Down 50% or more. Local area closed? Could be off 80%; there is no reason for anyone to come into your shop. You might as well be selling horse-drawn buggys. This is probably why Bend used to have 5 full service ski shops (when it had a population of only 12,000). Now, with a population of 89,000 and the local hill doing the same amount of business (probably 400k skier visits per year), there are 2 full-service shops.
Bike industry is so much more stable. We know it will be sunny and warm at some point (this being Oregon, assume that we will see sun and 70's by July 5) and it is always an Indian summer, at least through September, but probably November or so. Plus, the sport is growing, and has more of a need for a quiver of bikes (mountain, road, cross, commuter) than skiing does, as well as higher participation rates. And, frankly, as people around here are more passionate about cycling=spending more money.
It would be just like farmers getting wiped out every 4th year, but not getting subsidies, cheap loans, and insurance from the government like they do now. There would probably be a lot fewer farmers if that was the case.