The French sporting goods industry association, Union Sport & Cycle (USC), plans to ask the French government for a specific aid package for the country’s ski sector, whose total losses for the current season are estimated at about €1 billion - without including those of the skilift and cable car operators - because of the restrictions imposed by public authorities to combat the Covid-19 virus in the ski resorts.
In contrast with the ski resorts in Austria and Switzerland, those in France have been completely shut down for alpine skiing throughout the current snow sports season. The French government has ordered the lockdown of sporting goods stores and other non-essential stores in 16 regions from March 20 on. Most of them have been allowed to remain open for most of the time since December, but the demand for alpine ski products has been nearly absent. Only sleds and equipment for Nordic skiing, mountain skiing or snowshoeing could be sold or rented in the stores, mostly to local residents. Hotels and restaurants have been locked down.
According to USC, this has led to sales losses of around €300 million for equipment manufacturers, €550 million for retailers in the ski resorts and up to €100 million for sporting goods retailers in other parts of the country.
For retailers in mountain resorts, which have received little aid because they were allowed to stay open – they still are - this has amounted to an estimated loss in revenues of 73 percent as compared to the 2018/19 season, when they already suffered a drop of 17 percent due to a first wave of countrywide retail lockdowns that began exactly one year ago.
One-third of the specialized ski retailers are confronted with an “absolute emergency” in terms of cash flow, according to USC, and 14 percent of them have exhausted all their liquidities. The aid received from the government so far has only covered 5 percent of the lost business and 19 percent of the retailers have already used all the funds.
USC predicts that the huge sales shortfall will translate into a 70 percent decline in forward orders from French retailers for the next snow sports season. In a conference organized by USC, Bruno Cercley, the outgoing CEO of Groupe Rossignol, reportedly indicated that its own sales of winter sports equipment in France will amount to only about €18 million for the financial year ending this month, down from €60 million in 2018/19 and €26 million in 2019/20.