Those hoping to hit the slopes this winter might want to get their gear early — again.
Ski season is getting closer, and staff at ski and snowboard equipment stores say they're already seeing a surge in business.
"I think with the pandemic going on, there are fewer activities for people to go out and do on their spare time," said Fresh Skis store manager Finn O'Driscoll. "So a lot of people are turning to skiing."
After Alberta's first COVID-19 winter pushed people outdoors and led to reported shortages of cold-weather sports gear, some staff are saying it's likely to continue this season.
"Last year was our busiest year in history," said Alyssa Ingram, the assistant hard goods manager at Ski West in Kensington.
"This year, we're definitely following kind of the same trend — if not going higher."
Gear and clothes in high demand
O'Driscoll and Ingram say ski-related business started getting busier a few weeks ago, and so far, they're seeing a mix of new and veteran skiers.
Both say their stores are stocked up and ready to meet demand, but they warn the industry is also seeing shipping delays on some items.
At Ski West, Ingram says those delays are impacting clothing.
"From what I've heard … we're definitely not the only place in Calgary that's been struggling to get stuff in," Ingram said.
And according to O'Driscoll, items from the hard goods sector — such as skis, boots and bindings — are in demand, too.
"Gear is definitely pretty popular across the board," O'Driscoll said. "It's definitely high compared to most years."
O'Driscoll says customers on the hunt for specific items might have longer wait times.
Ingram, meanwhile, is urging customers to pick up what they need quickly.
"My biggest advice is do your research before coming in, have a good idea what you're looking [for], and then come in sooner rather than later," she said.