On the cover: Zebbe Landmark, co-owner of Stuntwood store (& Distro) in Sweden, photo Alex Roberts.
After a few slow news years between the GFC and Covid, I think we’ve seen more disruption and change to the boardsports business model in the past 3 years than we had in the previous 10.
It seems every issue I’m writing about some new seismic shift to the boardsports business model. This issue we look into snow products and after what sounds like a bumper pre-order season for most last winter, the rocketing cost of fuel and inflation levels means we need to brace ourselves for a reserved PO season. But what’s the seismic shift? Pre-ordering deadlines. Snowsports have just one sell-in season, unlike surf and skate categories which have four. Trade shows have shifted forward trying their best to stay aligned with pre-order deadlines shifting earlier and earlier, mainly driven by the longer lead times needed in Asian manufacturing facilities for the apparel business.
But now snowboarding (incl. bindings & boots) POs are following suit. With the nightmares that brands have faced at manufacturers due to the perfect storm (logistics nightmares, raw material shortages, price increases) we’re hearing that snowboard companies are ordering next winter’s production run along with their samples order. That’s right… pre-ordering based off forecasts from retailers as early as October, which are then shored up a couple of months later. But these orders are still finalised much before March, where PO deadlines had sat historically for many years.
I must cite the line we’ve heard from retailers for years, and I paraphrase: PO deadlines are getting earlier and earlier, often brands asking shops to place orders before they’ve even had a chance to start selling current season’s products. Retailers left feeling overwhelmed, under supported and basically backed into a corner.
Alas, change is in the air. And it would seem an outdated March PO deadline is now redundant. I must say that I do like the sound of brands collecting provisional forecasted POs and then following up with a solid order in January. Necessity is the mother of invention…