According to a report published by The NPD Group, five outdoor activities – Cycling, Paddle Sports, Golf, Camping, Bird-watching and Nature Sightings – continued their momentum with robust growth in June.

Cycling Jumps 63 Percent In June
Sales in the cycling category increased 63 percent in dollars compared to the same month last year, to $697 million. Growth continued to accelerate from strength seen since March, but NPD noted that the category has seen unprecedented sales growth over the last few months, and bike sales continued to accelerate.

“While cycling growth in the early months of COVID-19 was largely generated from sales of family-friendly bikes, June’s growth came from higher-end bikes typically purchased by enthusiasts, including road bikes and full-suspension mountain bikes,” NPD wrote. Sports industry analyst with NPD Dirk Sorenson attributed 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 foreseeable future.

Paddle Sports’ Climb 56 Percent In June
Sales of Paddle Sports—kayaks, paddleboards, rafts, and canoes combined—grew 56 percent in dollar sales in June, to $172 million.

The Paddle Sports category had faced declines prior to COVID-19. Additionally, as bulky, expensive products, traditional paddle sports products have historically presented a challenge to retailers from an inventory management standpoint. More recently, however, existing inventory quickly converted into sales, as consumers sought activities that would keep them active and socially distant.

NPD data found inflatable kayaks and paddleboards are gaining popularity as they’re easier to store and less expensive. In June 2017, inflatables represented 19 percent of paddleboard unit sales and 9 percent of recreational kayak unit sales. In June 2020, those figures stood at 66 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

NPD wrote, “The combined effect of inflatables increasing in popularity and heightened demand for outdoor activity has created a perfect storm that has both increased paddle sports sales and transformed the types of products that comprise the category. With a higher turnover in the short term, many retailers will need to reset their inventories, monitoring industry trends to ensure they stock products that will be both popular and profitable in the future.”

Golf Vaults 51 Percent In June
In June, golf equipment sales were up 51 percent, to $661 million. The ability to play while social distancing is believed to offer appeal to first-time golfers and younger players. Senior sports industry analyst with NPD Matt Powell attributes golf’s growth to new players to the sport and pent-up demand when golf courses reopened. If the momentum continues, it could be an opportunity for the industry to engage new customers to the category, he said.

Camping Climbs 31 Percent
Camping equipment dollar sales increased 31 percent in June 2020 to $605 million as consumers pitched tents in their yards or at local destinations. Sales were less likely to be driven by consumers looking for epic experiences and more likely were driven by families looking to spend time outdoors away from sheltering at home.

Recreational tents grew almost two times as fast as backpacking tents, which tend to be favored by serious adventurers. NPD noted that an emphasis on pinnacle consumers (those who are more experienced) could help brands and retailers establish their authenticity, but it would be increasingly important for brands to focus marketing to appeal to beginners, too. “If camping continues to gain traction, the family recreation space can be a major boon to the industry, given that affordable and accessible activities may be increasingly coveted by a wide range of consumers as they seek value amidst the economic tumult,” wrote NPD.

Binoculars Sales Rise 22 Percent
Binoculars sales saw a 22 percent dollar sales increase in June 2020 to $16 million compared to the same month last year with the appeal of bird-watching and nature sightings increasing. NPD wrote, “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 birdwatching’s appeal to a wide range of consumers. Beyond bird-watching, binoculars have a wide range of uses, from stargazing to nature walks.”

To view the full report, go here.