Winter’s not over yet, but people in the Northwest are already starting to think about spring and summer weather and the associated outdoor activities. Like camping, for example. But it appears that folks in Northwest aren’t alone in weather-related camping thoughts. Data from the NPD Group indicates that camping gear sales did much of the heavy lifting when it came to outdoor-industry sales growth in 2015.
Although I hate being cold and am susceptible to it, I’m not a big fan of global warming. But camping gear salespeople might be, if last year’s data is true. The 2015 calendar year was the second-warmest year on record in the United States, which caused annual outerwear sales to stay flat. However, NPD said camping gear sales “helped to grow the outdoor industry in 2015,” carrying what would have otherwise been a flat or down year.
NPD Group tracks retail sales in a variety of sectors, from appliances and automotive to outdoor equipment and video games.
According to NPD, the cold winters of 2013-2014 increased annual outerwear sales up nine percent, yet the warm 2015 winter caused sales to slip six percent in Q4. Those winter months are normally when people buy warm outerwear, but the higher temperatures reduced the need for new purchases. It could’ve been a sustainability push — which would be great — but that’s not as likely as the rising mercury.
Conversely, camping gear, which usually sees its highest sales during May and June, saw a 13 percent increase in year-over-year sales during Q4. NPD Group says “this was a result of the warmer weather combined with heightened interest in the activity.”
Looking at both annual and fourth-quarter 2015 sales results, the camping gear that saw the most growth were camp hammocks, backpacking tents, tent poles, tarps and tent accessories. Each of those grew by double digits up to 36 percent.
“While camping may be a two-week backpacking trip, it may also be a regular activity in a backyard or apartment rooftop,” said Matt Powell, vice president and sports industry analyst for The NPD Group. “As equipment products continue to cross style, function, and fashion, the industry will continue to gain appeal from more walks of consumers, and keep its current following coming back in both fresh and familiar ways.”
I’m not sure about that whole “rooftop camping” thing, but I’ve certainly gone backyard camping with the kids to get them ready for summer outings. If temperatures continue to stay warm, perhaps we’ll start that a bit sooner than normal and explore a few spring camp outs, contributing to those increased camping gear sales.