Five outdoor categories have experienced explosive sales growth at retail in recent months. Typically, June is a critical selling month for the outdoor industry. In this unprecedented year, here are some of the most popular outdoor activities among U.S. consumers, according to The NPD Group’s retail sales data.
Unprecedented growth over the last few months were largely from sales of family-friendly bikes. But June’s spike of 63% in dollars over June 2019 came from higher-end bicycles, including road bikes and full-suspension mountain bikes. Sports industry analyst Dirk Sorenson attributes the shift toward higher-end bikes to inventory shortages in more family-friendly categories, as well as cyclists who are now more willing to invest in the activity for the long haul.
2 Paddle Sports
Paddle sports equipment (kayaks, paddleboards, rafts, and canoes combined) grew 56% in dollar sales in June vs. the same time last year. Inflatable versions of kayaks and paddleboards are gaining popularity as consumers find them easier to store and less expensive. In June 2017, inflatables represented 19% of paddleboard unit sales and 9% of recreational kayak unit sales. In June 2020, those figures stood at 66% and 26%, respectively.
In June, golf equipment sales were up 51%. Senior Sports Industry Advisor Matt Powell attributes this to new players of the sport and pent-up demand upon golf course reopenings. If this momentum continues, it could be a strong opportunity for the industry to engage with new customer segments, he says.
Camping equipment dollar sales increased by 31% in June 2020 as consumers looking for a respite from home life pitched tents in their yards or at local destinations. Recreational tents grew almost two times as fast as backpacking tents.
5 Bird watching/nature study
Consumers have been creative in the activities they’ve undertaken while in the crisis period. Unique bird species can be found even in large cities, which contributes to bird-watching’s appeal to a wide range of consumers. Beyond bird-watching, binoculars have a wide range of uses, from stargazing to nature walks. To aid in their sightings, many purchased binoculars, which saw a 22% dollar sales increase in June 2020 compared to the same month last year.