Research by the Outdoor Industry Association shows that the greatest number of people who have ever participated in outdoor recreational activities have participated at least once in 2020 – but that engagement is unlikely to continue.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic devastated communities and forced a nationwide shutdown, outdoor areas became safe haven for socializing, improving physical and mental health, connecting with family and recovering from screen fatigue” According to the report, which resulted in a record 53% of Americans, or 7.1 million more than last year, exercising outdoors.
However, the 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report says that a quarter of new entrants do not want to continue their new outdoor activities and that this number “could rise sharply if consumers return to pre-pandemic habits”. The group conducted 18,000 online interviews with people aged 6 and over in 2020.
With many outdoor and sports brands benefiting from pandemic-powered outdoor activity, these new data could be a sign of caution. – but for the time being the momentum seems to be holding up.
The survey also found that the average number of annual trips per participant continued to decline over the long term, falling from 87 in 2012 to 71 in 2020.
Diversity – which was a big issue in the outdoor shoe industry – was also a problem with recreational activities. White people made up nearly three-quarters of the participants, 6% were Asian or Pacific islanders, and 9% were African American or black. The results show a 7% annual decline in Asians over the past three years and stagnant black participation over the past three years.
In 2020, 11% of outdoor attendees were Hispanic, which was down slightly year over year. However, the report showed that “Hispanics had both the highest number of average trips per participant (75) and the highest proportion of those who recover more than once a week (22%).”
According to gender, 46% of the participants were female and 54% male, according to the survey. By comparison, 51% of Americans are female.
“This gender difference has not changed in eight years, suggesting that industry efforts to expand the equity base have been ineffective or stagnated,” the report said.
Among the most popular outdoor sports, 21% of Americans prefer running, jogging, and trail running, while hiking was the most interesting for 19% of respondents. Other top categories are: freshwater, saltwater or fly fishing; Road cycling, mountain biking and BMX; and camping either in cars, in the backyard, backpacking or in mobile homes.
Finally, 60% of households with children participated compared to households without children with 46%. The highest engagement rates for households at 62% were recorded with children aged 6 to 12 years.