Home Blog 2020 Family Fuels Camping Sales Growth
Jun 5, 2020

Reinventing Family Vacation

Subscribe to our blog

My favorite childhood memories are of trips with my dad to fly fish and camp in Colorado and Utah. I will be a heretic and say I hated the fly fishing part, but I went to enjoy family time and the outdoors. Those trips were incredible, multi-day excursions that included leaky tents, testy camp stoves, meals from cans, and coolers that really didn’t hold their cool. I learned to start fires, set up tents, and sleep under the stars. These were the fundamentals of my summers, and the moments that made me a permanent camping guy.

Times have changed. And I’m not talking about the fact that I now own a tent that doesn’t leak, or a stove that actually works.  

The COVID-19 crisis has challenged me to find additional uses for my camping equipment, to entertain my 10-year old son in our backyard. My equipment is becoming multipurpose – it isn’t just about the multi-day family trip anymore, but a fundamental tool in keeping my family entertained, active, and focused on more than a video game or the latest TikTok snippet.

Last week, I went on a purchasing binge for camping items to invent more options for summertime backyard activities. Those same purchases will end up supporting my family all summer long, as I seek ways to reinvent summer now that our traditional vacation plans have been cancelled. Instead of a flight to see family 2,000 miles away, we’ll pack up our car, meet our family somewhere in the middle, and camp. Items like a new tent, better cooler, portable tables, chairs, and more fuel are all going to be used both in the backyard and during this camping adventure.

Looking at NPD data, I realize that I’m not alone in my outdoor equipment-buying behavior. Recreational tents showed strong sales in the last two weeks of April, with sales up 32% in the week ending May 2 compared to last year. Grills, a backyard staple, have consistently performed better week-over-week since the COVID-19 crisis changed our lives. Other camp basics are also beginning to sell better now than at comparable times last year, including camp tables, camp chairs, and lanterns. All of these items can be used both in the backyard and at the campground. My overall takeaway in looking at camping’s leaders and bleeders is that multipurpose products that can be used in both environments are experiencing growth, while those exclusive to hardcore camping or travel have yet to emerge from the crisis.  

Embracing outdoor moments and looking to create them in the comfort of our backyards has been a natural response to stay-at-home orders. With air travel showing slow improvement and family vacation options like theme parks limited, camping could have a breakout summer.

Camping has traditionally been an approachable family vacation. The key for brands and retailers will be to focus on this version of the outdoor experience – camping as fun, quality family time, whether it is at the campground or in the backyard – and evoking first timers looking to create memorable summer moments for their family.  

Brands and retailers have an important role to play not only in encouraging outdoor activity, but also lending a helpful ear. They must embrace ways to go the extra mile to help new campers plan purchases and discover places to camp out, and create glamping moments in their customers’ backyards. Family is the fuel for the camping market this season. All of these basic steps should help to improve summer sales as consumers turn to new options to reinvent vacation this year.

Stay current in your industry

Related Content

Tagged: Sports

Sneakernomics: Sports Retail Holiday 2020 Expectations
Sneakernomics: Sports Retail Holiday 2020 Expectations

How will athletic footwear sales fare? Will bikes and home fitness equipment sales maintain their momentum? Matt Powell outlines his holiday expectations here

Sneakernomics: Second Half Predictions for U.S. Sports Retail
Sneakernomics: Second Half Predictions for U.S. Sports Retail

Matt Powell outlines his expectations for the holiday season and second half of the year.

Plot Twist: U.S. Performance Bike Sales Rise in June, Reports The NPD Group
Plot Twist: U.S. Performance Bike Sales Rise in June, Reports The NPD Group

The cycling sales trend evolved in June, with the growth stemming primarily from higher-end bikes including road, gravel, mountain, and electric bikes.

Sneakernomics: First Half 2020 Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales Results
Sneakernomics: First Half 2020 Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales Results

Matt Powell recaps how the sneaker and active apparel markets fared in the first half of 2020.


Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice. | Cookie Settings

Follow Us

© 2020 The NPD Group, Inc.