CHICAGO, June 15, 2023 – As consumers immerse themselves more in travel, concerts, sports, and other social activities this year, outdoor retail industry sales trends are a reflection of these behaviors. Sales across the $28 billion U.S. outdoor industry declined by 1% in the 12 months ending April 2023, versus the prior year, impacted by consumers spending less on big-ticket equipment items; however, there were many bright spots across product categories that support their broader needs, according to Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group.
“The equipment market had a great run during the pandemic as people bought kayaks, standup paddleboards, and other large gear to get outdoors and serve as a viable vacation alternative to travelling,” said Julia Day, executive director of business development at Circana. “With the equipment market cooling down this year as the world reopens, consumers are instead buying backpacks, blankets, camping accessories, and other versatile products that meet their expanded outdoor lifestyle needs, both at and away from home.”
Looking at apparel and accessories sold through the core outdoor channels, sales revenue grew by 2% and 4%, respectively, in the past 12 months. Apparel category callouts were swimwear and outerwear. Bags were the hottest segment in accessories, thanks to growth in travel packs, fanny and chest packs, duffle bags, and everyday lifestyle backpacks. The return of sports activities has helped sales of baseball and softball equipment, which grew by 6%, and soccer equipment, up 15%.
While overall outdoor equipment sales declined, year over year, segments tied to outdoor living were on the rise. Camp sets, tent vestibules, and insulated cups, mugs, and tumblers all grew by double-digits, and outdoor blankets and portable power banks also sold well.
“Fashion elements influence sales, especially in outdoor accessories categories such as packs, blankets, and drinkware,” said Day. “Even a simple innovation, like expanding product lineups to include an array of color options, is cool and fresh and will incline consumers to buy on impulse.”