Outdoor Industry Association

New OIA report highlights winter spending plans of ‘enthusiast’ market

A high percentage of consumers are ready to spend money in person at retail shops this season, the study shows.

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Although the country is still in the throes of an evolving pandemic, a new Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) report shows strong interest and buying power from self-described “enthusiasts” ready for the winter season.

The report, “2021 Holiday Season Special Report: Outdoor Participation and Purchases,” compiled survey responses from 4,000 outdoor enthusiasts about their plans to participate in some kind of winter activity and their purchasing plans to make those activities happen. The survey was limited to those who previously participated in winter activities and did not include any who identified themselves as new participants getting into a winter activity for the first time.

The numbers should be heartening for both brands and retailers. More than 80 percent of respondents said they plan to purchase some type of outdoor apparel this season, with 76 percent planning to buy equipment some time during the holiday shopping season. Interestingly, the majority of respondents said they plan to do their shopping in-person at a specialty outdoor shop. That figure was double the number of consumers who said they plan to shop online. 

The OIA also noted there were an “abundance” of comments highlighting plans to purchase online and pick up curbside, demonstrating the still-developing influence of this relatively new option for consumers. 

The report goes on to draw a correlation between the increased acceptance of remote work and increased flexibility in when and where enthusiasts plan to participate in their winter activities of choice. 

“Overall, 59 percent of respondents said they plan to travel more than 100 miles to participate in winter activities,” the report noted. “Sixty-seven percent of respondents who plan to participate in downhill skiing plan to travel more than 100 miles to participate, and 70 percent of respondents who bike on pavement, gravel, or dirt plan to travel more than 100 miles to participate.” 

With respect to snow sports specifically, there’s almost a dead heat between those planning to pursue their activities Monday through Friday and those who plan to participate on weekends. This may mean that ski resorts will have to reconsider staffing and operational plans with more guests spread out throughout the week, as many resorts prepare for the most “normal” season since the pandemic began

What the outdoor industry as a whole might be relieved to see here is the enduring enthusiasm of winter participants, who seem ready to return to more of the activities they love, and spend their hard-earned money to do so.