NPD Notes Pent-Up Demand for Summer Road Trips

Sales data around camping equipment, U.S. travel books/maps/road atlases and gas prices suggest the environment is ripe for road trips this year, as national parks and other parts of the country begin to reopen and air travel restrictions and concerns remain, suggest NPD Group data.

According to the research firm, camping equipment sales reached a turning point in April and ramped up in the last two weeks of the month. In the two weeks ending May 2, dollar sales grew for recreation tents (+30%), hammocks (+103%), camp sets (+119%), and campfire equipment (+42%), as well as grills (+74%), smokers (+94%), and fuel (+23%). Also seeing growth were accessories such as portable power kits (+87%), bike trailers/joggers (+133%), and hanging hitch racks (+51%).

Tools to equip the RV also saw increases in the latter half of April, including utensils (+36%), pots and pans (+22%), and camp toiletries (+24%).

U.S. travel book sales increased 77% in the four weeks ending May 16. By region, travel books for the Western U.S. states were the most sought after, growing 108% (based on unit sales), while unit sales for maps and road atlases grew 106%. Sales of parks and campground books also rebounded, growing 123%.

READ ALSO:   Jump in ‘Money Anxiety Index’ Resembling September 11, 2001

At the fuel pump, the average price per gallon has declined 30 cents since January, and price as a reason for purchase has increased year-to-date through April, according to NPD’s Motor Fuels Index.

“Cabin fever has set in big time, as the lockdown and work-from-home lifestyle continues to be followed by much of the nation. Families are looking for a safe escape to save their summer vacation. As a result, there’s an uptick in consumers gearing up for outdoor activities and road trips, whether local or more long distance,” said Matt Powell, NPD’s sports industry advisor. “NPD data from other industries shows sales increases for U.S. travel books, maps and atlases, and outdoor toys. There’s a sweeping trend at play here; from the backyard to the campground, consumers are seeking refuge in the outdoors.”