Martin Jahns

European Outdoor Group State of Trade Market Research Programme

Europe's outdoor industry: Strengthened to face new challenges

Europe's outdoor companies defy pandemic and supply chain problems and even emerge stronger from the Covid year 2021. At OutDoor by ISPO, the European Outdoor Group presents the latest figures for the industry - and explains which categories are doing particularly well.

The EOG presented its State of Trade Report at OutDoor by ISPO.

Europe's outdoor industry is facing the global challenges vital as never before. This could be seen not only in the colorful hustle and bustle in the exhibition halls of the OutDoor by ISPO, but also in the industry figures. At the start of the fair, the European Outdoor Group as exclusive, idealistic sponsor of the OutDoor by ISPO with its State of Trade Report presented an inventory of the industry.

The key finding: the European outdoor industry is actually emerging stronger from the pandemic period. In 2021, the wholesale value of the outdoor industry cracked the 6 billion euro mark for the first time. With 240 million products sold, outdoor products remain in demand worldwide.

Mark Held, Non-Executive Chairman of the EOG, put it succinctly at the launch of the report, "Demand for outdoor products has gone through the roof. The pandemic has caused people to reevaluate what really matters to them."

EOG State of Trade 2021 - wholesale value of trade

Outdoor industry with 18.7 percent growth

As a result, many of the more than 100 European outdoor companies highlighted in the State of Trade Report posted double-digit growth rates in 2021. Compared to 2020, the value of European brands increased by an average of 18.7 percent last year. And even the pre-Covid numbers from 2019 topped the industry, with 7.5 percent higher value and 5.3 percent more units sold.

The footwear category posted particularly strong growth numbers, with a 22 percent increase in value, as did apparel (20 percent). Tent companies were also successful with 16 percent value growth 2021.

The Outdoor Accessories category put down the largest relative increase in units sold, with 25 percent.

EOG State of Trade 2021 - Product Category Percent Change

Outdoor industry with "excellent basic resilience"

The figures show that the outdoor industry continues to benefit from the outdoor and "staycation" boom, which has gained further momentum in pandemic times.

"It is clear that the outdoor sector has excellent underlying resilience. In 2021, this allowed brands to benefit from the public’s increased appetite for getting out into nature, which was prompted by lockdowns around Europe. Our industry adapted very well to rapidly changing circumstances and overall, reaped the rewards as restrictions eased," said Pauline Shepherd, EOG Head of Market Research.

EOG State of Trade 2021 - Regions - Value, Percentage Change and Share.

"Sustaining that boom will be tough"

Nevertheless, despite milder Corona variants, the challenges for the industry are not getting any smaller, according to Shepherd: "Sustaining that boom in participation will be tough and along with ongoing supply chain issues and the increasing cost of living, we know that businesses face some significant challenges this year and beyond."

Such supply chain constraints from rising raw material and transportation costs are also affecting EOG member companies, Mark Held confirmed. "Supply chains are starting to struggle. Raw material and transport prices are going up. Brands are finding it hard to recruit people, especially technical staff," Held said.  

Facing new challenges with "relative strength"

Nevertheless: The strong adaptability of the past years should make the industry optimistic. Thus, the outdoor industry had already taken the Corona pandemic as an opportunity to critically examine their relatively long supply chains.

So study leader Shepherd also encouraged: "However, the outdoor sector is fundamentally in robust shape, and can meet those challenges from a position of relative strength."

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Martin Jahns