Why is being stuck indoors boosting outdoor product sales?
The stay-at-home economy has supported strong trends toward home cooking and home improvement projects, but it has also more surprisingly led to a surge in sales in outdoor categories, from running shoes to bikes, kayaks, tents, swimming pools and motorhomes.
NPD Group’s in-store POS tracking data showed sales for the month of June jumped 63 percent in bicycles; 56 percent across paddle sports (kayaks, paddleboards, rafts and canoes); 51 percent in golf equipment; 31 percent in camping gear and 22 percent in binoculars for bird watching.
Consumers are believed to be looking for activities that can be done in open spaces while playing team sports and heading to gyms, movie theaters, beaches and shopping malls are restricted or off-limits.
The spike in people running, walking and cycling is also believed to be partly driven by a heightened focus on health following the pandemic’s arrival. People with underlying conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, face a higher risk of severe COVID-19.
Spending time outdoors has also been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. Surveys from the American Psychological Association have found a significant increase in stress levels among Americans due to COVID-19 daily infections, civil unrest, economic and education uncertainties, and the hostile political environment.
Helen Johnson-Leipold, CEO at Johnson Outdoors, a maker of kayaks and camping equipment, said on her company’s recent quarterly conference call that people ”are eager for recreational activities that are rejuvenating to the mind, body and spirit and safe to enjoy.”
Many outdoor brands are also hopeful that those discovering or rediscovering outdoor activities will develop life-long interests.
“The silver lining in the pandemic is that Americans now, more than ever, have reunited and rediscovered outdoor activities,” said Christopher Metz, CEO of Vista Outdoor, the
parent of Bell Helmets, Giro, CamelBak, Blackburn and other outdoor brands, on his company’s recent quarterly call. “We believe the structural change is not three or six months within our country and lifestyles, but the beginning of a new norm and a way of life.”
- America Outdoors: Consumers Are Flocking to These 5 Activities – The NPD Group
- June 2020 US core skate and surf sales grew +15% – ActionWatch
- The New Panic Buys: Kayaks, Pools, Tents and Trampolines – The New York Times
- The Evening Campfire: Outdoor activities surge during COVID-19 – The Herald
- Outdoor recreation increases during pandemic; local outfitters try to keep up – Fox19
- Stress in the Time of COVID-19 – American Psychological Association
- Johnson Outdoors Inc. (JOUT) Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- Vista Outdoor Inc. (VSTO) CEO Chris Metz on Q1 2021 Results (Earnings Call Transcript) – Seeking Alpha
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What factors do you see driving interest in outdoor categories during the pandemic? Is the momentum sustainable? How can outdoor brands and retailers ensure newcomers to outdoor activities become lifelong fans?