WINNIPEG – Many Winnipeggers flock to order their winter outdoor sports gear, causing local businesses to scramble even over Code Red restrictions.
Demand for cross-country skis and snowmobiles kicked off earlier than usual this year in late summer. It also sustained a spike in interest, as sales of bikes and home gym equipment soared in the spring and summer.
Nordic ski sales have “exploded”, with sales hitting about eight times the amount of last year, said Dean Sampson, owner of Sampson’s Sporting Life. “We’ve never seen anything like it.”
The pre-winter was also “absolutely mental” for Alter Ego Sports, says Landon Wuzinski, sales associate at Pembina Highway store.
Both stores said they were busy answering phone calls and filling curb pickup orders, which applies to most sporting goods in addition to some winter clothing in their stores. .
“A lot of people don’t go on this big vacation like they normally would during the holiday season,” Wuzinski said. “A lot of people, I guess, either rationalized that they weren’t going to take a vacation, or they kind of thought they would be locked up at home, so they just bought stuff early.”
THIN EXTENDED GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS
At the start of the pandemic in April, Sampson said he took a calculated bet and ordered five times the amount of winter sports equipment he usually makes, a move he says is now paying off. .
“From customer to customer, it looks like we’re the last store in town to have a big collection,” Sampson said.
Inventories of certain sizes of cross-country skis could drop by the end of December, he said.
Sampson said he is normally able to order some products throughout the month, but the global supply chain is stretched. He said he believes the orders that retailers are receiving now will constitute their inventory for the remainder of the season.
Wuzinski, however, said that while demand is high, Alter Ego Sports is covered.
“There are things that happen,” he said.
When it comes to sales of alpine skis and snowboards, Sampson said his store has not experienced the kind of jump other provinces have experienced due to current Code Red restrictions in Manitoba.
“Right now Manitobans are waiting to see what happens with the lockdown,” he said.
Ski slopes have been closed since November 12 and could reopen next week, provided Code Red restrictions are not extended. Prime Minister Brian Pallister, however, has suggested that an extension of the restrictions might be a likely possibility.
WINTER SEASON TIME FOR NEW AND OLD LEISURE
Winnipeg resident Colten Platschik, 21, tried the snowmobile last year for the first time, which convinced him he should consider buying one for this winter as he wouldn’t be able to travel in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I stay at home, so I save money,” Platschik said. “I thought I could spend it on a snowmobile to have some winter joy.
He said he was buying one for his friend, which allowed him to avoid stores where he heard sales had “skyrocketed”.
“It gave me a reason to really want to enjoy the winter since I’m not a big snow guy,” said Platschik.
After seeing how weak campers were this summer, Steven Karlenzig figured it would be a similar situation with snowmobiles as well – a hobby he grew up on.
Karlenzig, who lives outside the town of Springstein, said he and his family chose to buy a snowmobile as another outlet for spending more time outdoors this winter and bought one at the end of summer off Kijiji.
“I was going to see a few more before I bought this one, and they just got caught,” he said.
This genre reinforced my reasoning for, ‘Okay, I have to be ready to buy one and have some cash on hand. “
He said a relative had also found himself in a similar situation but missed his chance to get a good deal by waiting a few hours too long before contacting the seller.
Since Karlenzig bought his sled, he said the listing prices on Kijiji have increased significantly.
Interested shoppers may have a hard time finding one, but in-store and online inventory isn’t completely depleted.