onenerdykidBecause the ski industry is 100% dependent on cold, snowy conditions. No cold, no snow, no sales. This is an absolute fact of our industry. And there are at least 2 seasons where we have had dismal snow years, especially in North America.
This means that shops are scared to spend too much of their money on product that no one will buy. Smaller orders are then given to each manufacturer which in turn causes less products to be produced. And I hate to say it, but the freeski market is the absolute fringe of the ski industry. If any products are to be produced in smaller and smaller quantities, it is freeski-related products.
Question for you...
I was under the impression that some independent shops purchased equipment on consignment, especially high-value items likes boots & skis. If my understanding is correct, that would mean that contractually, the shop then owned money to the supplier only when the goods were sold. If the goods went unsold, they were returned to the supplier. This meant that shops were able to sell goods heavily discounted at the end of each season, though the goods are sold at a lower margin. They were able to use margin from MSRP or marked-up inventory sold at the beginning of the season to recover the cost of selling at a discount retail price.
If that is the case, the inventory a shop holds does not necessarily matter, so long as they are holding enough to meet the demand for a product. There is no such thing as holding "too much" if it is purchased on consignment. That leaves the wholesale inventory management the responsibility of the manufacturer.
The consignment thing was told to me by the employee of a local shop at the end of last year, so not sure how valuable that information is. I'm basically extrapolating the rest from there. Nonetheless, it is definitely an interesting business model.