Italian Boardsports Market Insight January 2019

2018 is done and economically it was a year with a small growth in GDP, but not fantastic. Politically we had a lot of discussions regarding budgets, with the EU as the new government with the combination of 5stelle and Lega, who want to spend more money and need to raise more debts as planned to fulfill their election campaign promises. By Franz Josef Hoeller.

One of them is to give a salary to the unemployed and to lower the tax pressure for small companies. Something the Italians are waiting for with baited breath, but the EU is scared that things could get out of control if it’s not controlled well. Let‘s hope this brings a positive mood, as it would definitely help our economy to grow. At the time of writing, it would appear that now that the EU has finally given the green light to proceed.

Boardsport-wise the year was good for skateboard hardgood sales, and bad or even really bad for skate shoe sales as the traditional skate shoe silhouette has gone out of trend. The only ‘skate’ shoe brand doing well is Vans according to retailers across Italy. The rest is ruled by sneaker brands. Snowboarding had a season with slow sales as winter kicked in late and the time for selling full price is just too short as sales start early and older products are already heavily discounted when the season starts. Alex Ricci from Asa agency, who are agents for many different snow brands say that being active and doing events with the end consumers is crucial when you want to compete with online stores as service and customer support is the most important thing to do now when you want to survive.

Lukas Höller from Sub shop in Bolzano says: “Skateboarding is still a big trend in Italy and also in fashion, while surfing is lacking a bit of that coolness it used to have a couple years ago. Skateboarding is present everywhere but unfortunately core stores can‘t really take advantage of it as distribution of many brands has gone very wide and stores also need to compete with many very well assorted online stores.”

Many stores asked say that US based skate and streetwear labels will have a strong comeback in 2019 as kids are really asking for them. This also applies to new or small labels, because the kids of today are very active on social media and are very strict on what they want to buy and stores need to react and adapt to these requests if they wish to stay relevant.

A wish from many retailers and even distributors is that they would like to see less B2C business from brands as it takes a lot of business away from them.

And finally in mid-January we are welcoming snow across the Alps. Here’s to a great 2019.

Brands that stayed true to their roots, for example DLXSF, are again growing from season to season which is a great indicator for a healthy skate scene and a sign that kids do care about the brands who over the years have supported skateboarding. That’s the case in both streetwear and hardgoods as kids are very interested in new upcoming brands as they want to stand out from the rest.

A wish from many retailers and even distributors is that they would like to see less B2C business from new brands as it takes a lot of business away from them, from which they would profit. Stores are still the true creators of the skateboarding scene. But many of them run their business close to the edge and are highly at risk of closing down as margins are very low especially in hardgoods (decks), whilst in streetwear they need to stock the hottest brands to make the difference when competing with online and big box stores.

Enough for now as finally winter has kicked in in January, it‘s only that sale starts too early. Happy 2019 everyone!

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