Shopping For Kids’ Hockey Skates? Good News – Maybe

Today I’m excited to share some information about kids’ hockey skates that may be relevant if you’re the parent of a player in need of new wheels. Depending on the brand, line, and size of the skates you’re considering for your kid, you might actually end up paying less than you would have a few months ago.

I know – it sounds crazy, right? Usually, as hockey parents, shopping for new equipment feels like going through the five stages of grief, all in one afternoon. But, I was pleasantly surprised recently when I started researching new skates for my son.

My expectation was that he was going to be moving into an adult-sized skate, and that they would come with an “adult” price to match. However, thanks to a change in skate size classifications introduced by Bauer when they recently rolled out the new generation of Supreme skates, some parents will be able to save some money when shopping for new kids skates.

The Existing Footprint

Here’s the background on this. For a long time, Bauer, CCM, and other hockey skate makers have had three size classifications for skates: youth, junior, and senior. While there sometimes were slight differences in specs between the youth and junior or senior versions of the same model, usually they were the same across all three size classes. The only difference was the price.

And that price difference for the same skate could be significant, especially going from the junior to the senior size class. Depending on the brand and model of skate, the price for a junior size would increase at least 35% for a senior size, and sometimes more than 60%. More often than not, the price would go up by 50% or more. That translates to increases of as much as $250.

To reiterate, that’s for the exact same skate, just in a different size.

Given how the skate sizes were organized into the three size classes, there have always been a lot of kids whose skates were in the adult size class, and thus carried adult prices, even though the kids still had a lot of physical growth ahead of them. For parents buying equipment, it’s hard to grasp why kids’ skates would come with adult prices when the kids probably will grow out of at least five more pairs of skates before their feet stop growing.

The Long And Short Of It (And In Between)

So, Bauer did something very cool, in my opinion. They went from three size and pricing tiers (youth, junior, and senior) to four (youth, junior, intermediate, and senior). The new intermediate tier basically gets sandwiched in between junior and senior, providing more reasonable price points for several sizes before kids move into the adult sizes and corresponding prices.

What specifically has changed? What sizes will fall into a different pricing tier now that there are four tiers compared to when there were three? And, have all pricing tiers been affected?

I want to take a second here to reiterate what I said earlier. Bauer has gone from three to four size and pricing tiers, but for now, this only applies to the new generation of Supreme skates that were rolled out recently. Since Bauer doesn’t launch new generations of all three of its equipment lines at the same time, skates in the Vapor and Nexus lines still just have the three size and pricing tiers. I would expect that when new generations of Vapor and Nexus skates are launched, they will be divided into four tiers just like the Supremes now are. It also wouldn’t surprise me if CCM and other competitors did the same thing.

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed. The sizes that fall into the youth tier are the same as before; it includes Y13.5 and everything smaller (typically the smallest size available is Y6).

As for the affected tiers, it used to be that skate sizes 1 through 5.5 were junior skates; 6 and above were senior skates.

Now, junior covers skate sizes 1 through 3.5; the new intermediate tier includes sizes 4 through 6.5; and size 7 and above are senior skates.

Again, this is only relevant to Bauer Supreme skates, and only for the new generation. If you’re looking at CCM skates, or skates from Bauer’s Vapor or Nexus lines, they’re still organized the old way, with just three tiers (youth, junior, and adult) – for now, at least. The same applies to the previous generation of Supreme skates (i.e., S25/S27/S29/2S/2S Pro).

Two Sides Of The Same Puck

Since the new intermediate tier basically was wedged in between the junior and senior tiers, it includes sizes that previously were in both of those existing tiers. In fact, of the six sizes in the intermediate tier (whole and half sizes from 4 through 6.5), four of them used to be in the junior category, while only two used to be in the senior category.

In other words, it’s more likely that parents buying skates in the intermediate category are paying more for what used to be in the junior tier than paying less for what used to be in the senior tier.

So you may be wondering – why am I happy about this move from three to four pricing tiers?

Well, there are a couple reasons. Sure, the obvious one is that it happens to work to my advantage this time. My son is going into a size 6 skate, so if we bought new Supremes for him they would be in the intermediate price tier rather than senior like in the past – so we would save money.

Beyond my own self interest, though, I think having four pricing tiers does save parents money. Not necessarily on one pair of skates, but over the long haul.

That’s because while the intermediate tier is priced higher than the junior tier used to be, the junior tier pricing got pushed lower than it was before the intermediate tier was introduced.

I had a hunch that this could make it more economical in the long run, so I ran some numbers. I found two models of Supreme skates that had the same retail price for the senior model, because the pricing for the other price tiers are set in relation to the senior model price.

One of the skates was from the new generation, so it had four different price points; the other skate was from the previous generation with only three price points. Since the sizes in the youth price tier haven’t changed, though, for the sake of my number crunching I only had to consider three price tiers for the new skate, and two for the older skate.

I used a hypothetical scenario of a kid that over a five-year span gets new skates every year, going up by one size each year. In the first year, he’s wearing a size 3, the last size that would fall in the junior tier under both the old and the new structures. Five years later, he is in a size 7, the first size that would fall in the senior tier under both structures.

Over the five-year span, the pricing based on having four tiers ends up costing slightly less than it would with three tiers. And if you run the numbers the same way but over a seven-year span – meaning starting at size 1, so spending two additional years in junior skates – the savings generated by having four tiers are roughly doubled.

This hypothetical doesn’t exactly reflect what happens in real life, clearly. For starters, my analysis was based on the same skate models at the same prices for 5-7 years. Beyond that, most kids don’t grow in such a predictably linear way. They might be able to wear one pair of skates for two years, and then grow out of two pairs in one season another year. What size and price tier a kid is in when they go through phases of fast or slow growth would of course have an impact on whether the numbers I ran would apply to their individual situation.

Still, though, the big takeaway for me was that on average, having an additional size and price tier will help parents save money over the course of several years.

Edge Control

Like I said earlier, when I started researching new skates for my son, I was pretty excited to learn that Bauer had added the intermediate tier on the new generation of Supreme skates. My son has had Supremes for years and really likes them, and I knew he was going to need a size that in the past would have been priced as a senior skate. So the possibility of saving money thanks to the new intermediate tier made me happy.

As it turned out, though, we ended up going with skates from the previous generation of Supremes. The new ones that we were planning to get weren’t in stock in his size and weren’t going to arrive in time for his tryouts. We lucked out and found a used pair from the previous generation at a local shop two days before tryouts. They were in great shape, and my son loves them. All’s well that ends well, I guess.

Final Score

So, there you have it. I hope that what I’ve described about the new generation of Bauer Supreme skates makes sense, and I hope that this move to add a fourth size and price tier saves you some money. Again, even if your kid doesn’t wear Supremes, I think Bauer will make the same change with the next generations of Vapor and Nexus skates. And I expect that CCM and other skate makers will likely do something similar.

I’m curious to hear your feedback on this change. Will it impact the price of your kid’s skates (or has it already)? Do you see any downside to this move? Please leave your comments and questions below – thanks!

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