Increasing numbers of Britons are turning to camping for their holidays

Increasing numbers of Britons are turning to camping for their holidays

The UK’s biggest outdoors retailer is anticipating a surge in camping as Britons look to holidays at home, with uncertainty continuing over foreign travel.

GO Outdoors said in the week following the UK Government’s announcement of measures to lead the country out of lockdown, online traffic searches for camping gear increased by 37 per cent.

Revenue on tents grew 30 per cent, with air tents selling more than 60 per cent more week-on-week. Camping chairs and air bed sales were also up substantially.

The increase in demand this year follows 2020’s trend, which saw the retailer sell more camping equipment than in the previous year. It said demand may outstrip supply this year.

Campsites in England have been given the green light to reopen, with Scotland looking to follow on 26 April. Welsh campsites opened to residents in Wales last month, though shared indoor facilities remain closed.

GO Outdoors said it had analysed pandemic sales figures to find the most in-demand products ahead of peak camping season, reflecting on trends to forecast what this could mean for consumers, the industry and the economy.

The company gained 32 per cent more online sales revenue for camping equipment in 2020 than in 2019. Buying director Jim McNamara said: “Much to our delight, last year saw a return of the British staycation with people both rediscovering the joys of holidaying close to home or trying out camping for the very first time.

“Despite the pandemic, 2020 was almost as good for the camping industry as 2019 – and that’s without the large scale festivals.

“From campouts in our gardens to campouts in the living room, the first half of the year did not deter our adventure-hungry customers from experiencing the buzz of camping.”

Over the months of June to August 2020, GO Outdoors said it saw a 28 per cent increase in revenue via its website for camping equipment. Family camping items were in greatest demand.

Mr McNamara said: “As the freedom to start travelling was permitted campsites reopened and with that came a surge in demand for camping equipment. Tents, sleeping bags, airbeds and camping stoves all began to fly off the shelves once more – many lines selling out as soon as they arrived in stock.

“Out in the open air, camping is one of the most secure ways to holiday during a pandemic. It was clear people were taking precautions, with sales of portable hygiene facilities including showers and toilets rocketing versus the year before.

“Closed and restricted stores meant we saw a shift in purchasing habits and preferences, with the vast majority of purchases made online. We expect this trend to continue this year, as shoppers appear to have gained confidence in the online shopping process, including those who only ever used to shop in stores.”

Sales of camping gear have increased over the past 12 months at GO Outdoors

Sales of camping gear have increased over the past 12 months at GO Outdoors

The retailer expects similar trends this year, as the UK emerges from lockdown, but holidaymakers remain uncertain about overseas travel. Mr McNamara said: “Looking forward to 2021, we anticipate another positive year for the outdoors industry.

“The uncertainty of foreign holidays and the apparent success of the vaccine rollout lead us to be optimistic for what lies ahead this year here in Britain.

“In the week following the government’s announcement that campsites in England may be able to open from 12 April, sales of camping equipment soared in anticipation of a much desired holiday. Tents, camping chairs and air beds in particular have proven popular ahead of reopening.

“Much like with campsite availability, it’s difficult to say whether demand will be higher than supply, creating a surge in bookings and camping equipment purchases respectively. For consumers this means a need to book and buy early, and for the industry this provides a much needed boost to keep campsites, services and stores open and prepared for a rise in demand.

“We’d like to encourage our customers to reunite safely, to continue holidaying in Britain and to boost our economy in turn.”

GO Outdoors was founded in Sheffield in 1998 and is now the largest outdoor retailer in the UK with more than 2 million sq ft of shop floor across 67 stores. It is owned by the JD Sports group.

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