As a summer of poor weather and waves draws to a close across Europe, I find it funny our one pre-Covid hope for the summer was for good waves and weather! Tourist spots across Europe boomed once again with the herds evacuating cities in search of fresh air and large bodies of water. 2020 was a bumper year for retailers in surf and skate and 2021 has been an improvement still for most and with consumers still tentative over travel, we can’t see the staycation buzz wearing off any time soon.
We’d be amiss for not commenting on surf and skate’s inclusion in the Olympics, which I think we can safely say was a success. Does the Olympics portray surf and skate in their truest form? No. Will all those who saw the sports on TV instantly head for their local board store? Maybe not. But I think it’s a case of those already teetering on the edge of the funnel, may now have been sucked in. Extra office “cool” to validate their water cooler conversations: ‘‘Hey, you surf John… it’s an Olympic sport now, right?’’ ‘‘Heck yeah I do. Wanna see some of my GoPro footage from the weekend?’’ And thus, John’s office street cred is instantaneously through the roof. Thanks IOC! But, don’t take it from me; we spoke with the surf and skate industry’s top dogs to get their take on the Big O’s impact and you can find Dave Mailman’s assessment of the surf industry on page 23 and our skate editor Dave Morgan’s piece on the skate industry on page 17.
We first reported on the killer foil craze over a year ago and this trend has continued to skyrocket, aided by inflatable wings and even an electric mutation that allows Joe Public easier access to this somewhat tricky boardsport. We dig into next summer’s product categories, which provides useful insight from brands on the work they’ve done to overcome supply chain problems. As mentioned in previous issues, Covid’s overarching impact has been the improved healthiness of business practices with retailers and distributors now forced to better plan with pre-orders. Although the rise in costs on raw materials and delivery methods is now rearing its ugly head and we ask brands who, how and where we can expect to see these costs implemented. Will the consumer even notice the increase, many of whom with extra cash in their pocket thanks to a cheaper staycation? Retailers are telling us customers now have stronger buying power and are no longer seeking out the second-hand board isle as much, nor are they quibbling on price as much as before. A seismic shift? We hope so.
So, another positive summer for the surf and skate businesses in our tribe. The optimists of our snow fraternity are particularly buoyant for this winter, citing pent up frustration as the key driver for a good winter. Hopefully shipping bottlenecks don’t delay winter orders too much and for anyone battling the ever-changing goalposts of Brexit, I wish you luck and patience. We’ll see you at the new
paddle trade show in Lyon, Hossegor for the Surf Summit and then we’ll shift to winter.
Harry Mitchell Thompson