Outdoor industry continues to grow in 2022

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The year 2021 has confirmed the changes introduced by the pandemic with respect to outdoor activities.

For many people around the world, if there has been one positive aspect of the pandemic that we are slowly leaving behind, it was rediscovering a love of outdoor sports.

Data from companies such as Strava or Suunto, have shown how the growth in the number of outdoor sports participants around the world has not stopped growing. If in 2020 we saw a total of 1.1 billion activities on the leading sports platform, Strava, which meant a growth of more than 33% compared to 2019, in the Sports Report of the Year 2021, the figures reached 1.8 billion activities. Suunto, for its part, reported an increase of more than 40% in mountain activities, with the hiking segment leading the way.

The year 2021 has confirmed the changes introduced by the pandemic with respect to outdoor activities.

For many people around the world, if there has been one positive aspect of the pandemic that we are slowly leaving behind, it was rediscovering a love of outdoor sports.

Data from companies such as Strava or Suunto, have shown how the growth in the number of outdoor sports participants around the world has not stopped growing. If in 2020 we saw a total of 1.1 billion activities on the leading sports platform, Strava, which meant a growth of more than 33% compared to 2019, in the Sports Report of the Year 2021, the figures reached 1.8 billion activities. Suunto, for its part, reported an increase of more than 40% in mountain activities, with the hiking segment leading the way.

A trend that continues to accelerate

As the popularity of all types of outdoor activities, from hiking to cycling, grew, so did the need for clothing and equipment to perform them. Although the outdoor gear industry had to weather the turbulent times of the pandemic, the increased interest and openings of restrictions on the sport translated into a great fiscal year 2021 for almost all companies selling specific gear.

The increase in demand due to the pandemic has brought many companies in the industry to the surface much faster than companies in other sectors. Brands have been able to benefit not only from athletes new to outdoor activities, but also from intermediate and advanced athletes willing to spend more for higher quality equipment at a time when their outdoor sports hobby has moved up the priority ladder. Likewise, families who had never participated in outdoor activities, or who had not done so for several years, have been gearing up intensively, preparing for a new form of recreation, during and after the pandemic.

All categories, especially camping and hiking, continue to grow as people embrace outdoor activities as a fundamental part of their plans. Not just during summer vacations with hiking or winter vacations with skiing.

Although running is often considered as a category of purely outdoor activities, we believe it has a lot to do with the general trend of outdoor activities as more runners leave the trails and asphalt to take their first steps on trails, paths and mountains. A trend that we have seen grow tremendously in recent years with the rise of Trail Running. Also during this past year 2021, running continued to gain strength both during the restrictions, for its simplicity and convenience, and with the arrival of summer.  Although a good part of the new runners come from a gym environment, probably after the passage of the pandemic, many of them will see running as a social opportunity and that the return of popular races progressively during this year 2022, will mark the beginning of another wave of this mass sport.

The new king of sports: cycling

The casual cycling sector soared with the onset of the pandemic, with bicycle sales in the month of April 2020 alone up 75% compared to the previous year, surpassing the $1 billion mark in the US alone. Suunto’s data supports this claim, highlighting a 40.9% increase in cycling activity among its users over the past year. In 2020 and 2021, we have seen how this trend has only accelerated, with many novice athletes and those coming from other activities such as running taking the step to become cyclists.

Good prospects for the future

Currently, and despite the fact that most of the global supply chain bottleneck has begun to unwind, most bicycles and many of their components are hard to find, as stocks ran out last summer and global supply chains continue to be affected. This trend continues into 2022, with limited bike arrivals and pressure from high demand in most categories.

In general, the outdoor industry does not seem overly concerned about a return to pre-pandemic travel and leisure habits. If anything, the adoption of new categories in the last year has encouraged many to consider how they can incorporate outdoor sports and activities into their future daily, weekend and vacation plans. Probably not all, but a good percentage of consumers who have tried new outdoor activities will maintain or increase their consumption of those activities when things return to full normalcy. The final effect of the pandemic, the covid travel restrictions and limitations and other events, such as the war in Ukraine, we believe will be positive in the long term on the outdoor sector.