Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall paddlesport category was faced declines, according to analysts at NPD Group. Traditionally, paddlesport products also have presented a challenge to retailers from an inventory management standpoint. More recently, however, existing inventory quickly converted into sales, said NPD, as consumers sought activities that would keep them active and socially distant.
In turn, sales of paddlesport products increased 56% in June 2020 versus the prior year, hitting $174 million from the period.
Inflatable versions of kayaks and paddleboards, in particular, have gained popularity as consumers found they were easier to store and less expensive, said NPD analysts. In June 2017, inflatables represented 19% of paddleboard unit sales and 9% of recreational kayak unit sales. In June 2020, those figures stood at 66% and 26%, respectively.
“The combined effect of inflatables increasing in popularity and heightened demand for outdoor activity has created a perfect storm that has both increased paddlesport sales and transformed the types of products that comprise the category,” said NPD. “With higher turnover in the short term, many retailers will need to reset their inventories, monitoring industry trends to ensure they stock products that will be both popular and profitable in the future.”