Method Mag Interviews Source On COVID-19 Effect On Snowboard Industry

Our good friends at Method Mag got in touch to explore the best way to inform their readers of the effects coronavirus poses to the snowboard industry. Below is the resulting interview published on the Method website this past weekend.

What action can shops take to help themselves in this situation?
In terms of financial help from the government, this varies by country, but so far the governments’ help has been slow in coming despite big early promises. Shops with not so much cash in the bank may very well be struggling to pay outstanding invoices and wages.

Everybody is used to shopping online via their phone, either direct from brands or direct from the likes of ASOS, Amazon, Zolando etc, because ordering a t-shirt or pair of shorts online is easy. However, buying snowboard boots is something that should never be done online – it requires the assistance of a well-educated snowboard shop employee to know the nuances of each brand’s fit in relation to someone’s foot, pressure points etc. It’s thanks to this and the high-ticket nature of snowboard gear that snowboard retailers have largely remained offline businesses. Many of them now have web shops, but – and snow shops will be the first to admit it – they aren’t anywhere near as good as they should be.

So, while many ‘bricks and mortar’ (i.e. physical shop) businesses have pivoted to sell their gear over their website, snowboard shops just don’t have the required systems to do this.

However, we’ve been speaking to a number of Europe’s finest core shops* and we’ve heard some interesting initiatives being carried out to keep the stoke high during lockdown:
– Use social media platforms and clever social strategies to remind people of the dreams we all chase, let them know the good times will be back. Don’t be ‘salesy’ though. People don’t appreciate being sold to at this time – instead use it to build your brand equity.
– Sell gift vouchers to local/loyal customers to be used when open again.
– Use the time to improve their website

GP87 factory, China

GP87 factory, China

In what way have manufacturers been affected so far?
We tackle this in depth in this SOURCE article where we speak with a number of the world’s largest factories. Looking at things top line, the majority of factories won’t be affected production-wise, because the European and Dubai-based facilities introduced strict health and safety procedures from the start, including disinfecting work stations, hand sanitizer and masks as standard, regular employee temperature checks, social distancing procedures (including during food breaks) and quarantine facilities for employees returning from high risk countries. Those factories still closed during quarantine don’t foresee any disruption with delivery times.

The Chinese factories luckily closed down coinciding with the Chinese New Year, meaning only one week of regular business hours were affected by the lockdown. Looking bigger picture and outside of snowboarding, the problem we’re going to stumble upon now is that with China and South Korea back open for business, it’s not a supply problem, but instead a demand problem being faced as the western world cancels and dials down future orders.

Is the snowboard industry better equipped to deal with this situation than other boardsports industries?
I think it is. Purely in terms of it being a one season manufacturing cycle. Looking at the apparel industry, for example, a brand in that space will have currently been due to deliver products for spring/summer to closed retailers and will then also have deliveries in autumn too. Whereas the snowboard industry managed to get December and January in the books this winter and now has all summer to see how the economy pans out for other industries in order to make better plans. There’s also a hopeful notion that with many snowboarders missing time on the mountain this winter, that next winter will see pent up demand and lots of snowboarders heading for the hills.

Interestingly, skateboard hardgoods sales have been strong during lockdown with people still skating creatively at home (check out an article we did featuring German shop OG Skateshop) and surfboard sales during the last two economic downturns were actually strong, with people not at work so spending more time in the ocean. It’s too early to tell this time round, and with people not allowed on beaches we’ll have to wait and see how that market pans out this summer.

Rock On Pro, France

Rock On Pro, France

Are there any conscious actions that consumers can take in order to help the industry?
I think this is the big one. I feel like core snowboarders know the importance of the local snow shop to the culture of snowboarding. It’s not just about providing good service and buying your gear, it’s a place to hang out and feel part of something special. Somewhere that puts on killer events, rail jams, park comps, movie screenings and hooks up local groms to ensure they’ve got the kit they need to progress. But not every snowboarder is aware of the cultural nuances a shop represents, so it’s our job as snowboard media (and snowboarders in general) to remind people of this as much as possible.

Moving on from this, snowboarders should always try to buy local wherever possible. Is buying a €400 snowboard for €40 less online really worth it? For that extra €40 you have to wait a couple of days for delivery, whereas buying in store is instant and also lets you know you’re supporting the local scene.

Where do you think we’ll be in a year’s time?
Where I hope and where I think we’ll be in a year’s time are two different things. Hopefully we’ll be back at it with minimal disruption and a killer snow season to make up for the lack of snowboarding this winter. I think no matter what, the landscape will change for next winter at least in that people will snowboard much more locally. Bearing in mind that most of Europe don’t have to cross a border or fly to get to the mountains, I think we’ll see a lot more local shredding.

*There’s certain criteria I use when qualifying a retailer as one of Europe’s “finest core shops”. They’re well respected by brands and other retailers for their approach to customer service, product selection and partner brands, they merchandise well, don’t go on sale early in the season, they support their community with events and athlete sponsorship and act as hub for the local snowboard community.*

100 slash snowboards
100 Dragon goggles
100 686 mens and womens outerwear
100 Canary Cartel snowboards




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