Sustaining BOOMING Recreation Sales Through Holiday and Beyond
If your business does summer operations, let’s hope you were part of the huge boom in sales, rentals and participation for outdoor recreation. A recent article from NPR summed it up in the title, “Amid a Deep Recession, Outdoor Equipment is Flying Off the Shelves,” and substantiated it with a few stats.
- Bike sales were up 63% in June (over June 2019)
- Paddlesports sales were up 56% after showing pre-pandemic declines
- Gear from a full spectrum of outdoor activities–from bird watching to golf to camping–is selling well
- And something we always love to see, “…much of the surge came from people who were trying a hobby for the first time.”
Some of the boost came from the federal unemployment benefits ($600/week) which expired in July, yet added $10 to $12 billion of additional income into the economy during its course. Most of the sales are attributed to those with discretionary income, who may have otherwise spent that money on travel (airfare and hotels). The most important takeaway is this:
“People…were spending [money] on things that they thought would make their lives better.”
While we all need to play responsible defense toward this virus with social distancing and safety plans in place, it sounds like consumers are also ready for some optimistic offense. Winter outdoor recreation can be a healthy and fun antidote to the socially isolated blues.
If the summer trend for first timers continues (i.e. those new or “newish” to winter activities), you may engage a new wave of consumers. For these new participants, prepare your staff to stay focused on the basics: comfort, protection and functionality. While more experienced athletes require performance from their gear, those newer to winter sports will be more focused on their basic needs.
SIA Takeaway: Put yourself in the shoes of this “new” or “newish” shopper and think about how you can turn them into a loyal brand fan. For a newcomer, feeling welcome and not judged will go a long way; as well as thinking about their gear needs, versus the outdoor enthusiast who might be looking for something more technical and expensive. They also may become important “micro” influencers, as their family and friends will seek their advice on how to get started in a particular activity.
Data-Derived Expectations for Holiday 2020
However you feel about Facebook, it’s indisputable that the company knows data. The tech giant recently published “The 2020 Facebook Holiday Package,” with insights, solutions and inspiration. For the Cliff’s Notes, here are the top five insights as quoted in the report:
- Gen X and Boomers dominate global mobile and e-commerce growth
- Self-gifting and seasonal shopping can be positive outlets in difficult times
- Imposed disruption fuels receptiveness to new products and services
- The economic downturn will expedite the rise of mega sales
- The new value equation: affordability, authenticity and action
The report is worth a full read. There are recommended actions and creative thought starters for strong marketing in general, as well as tips that will help leverage Facebook properties specifically.
Speaking of Tech This Holiday Season…
As we’ve been reporting, e-commerce is expected to take an increasingly bigger piece of the sales pie this holiday season, and tech companies are working hard to be front and center in the stay-at-home economy. Brick-and-mortar snowsports businesses, however, have a few competitive angles to leverage: staff expertise, rentals, personalized service and a passionate consumer base.
Never Underestimate the Excitement to Ski
There may be a universal lesson from a regional story about Wolf Creek Ski Area, located in Southwest Colorado. Based on results from an email survey, Wolf Creek determined that not only are its clientele stoked to ski this winter, they’re nonplussed by the necessary COVID precautions. Owner Davey Pitcher said, “It’s encouraging that [people are] willing to modify their behavior this winter.”
SIA Take: There’s no reason to think the nationwide enthusiasm for socially distanced, outdoor recreation will wane this winter. However, widespread travel concerns may limit certain customer demographics, particularly for businesses located in destination areas. Consider amplifying your messaging, content and marketing to local and regional customers.
Conversely, in the realm of experience, your overall customer profile may broaden. While we’re firm proponents of not trying to be “everything to everyone,” the economic landscape demands that we all evaluate how welcoming we are to everyone. Take the time now to reconsider what your core customers need and what your potential new customers will need. Train your staff accordingly. A hat and hand warmers today may be the building blocks for a passionate, multi-discipline skier or snowboarder in the future.