Pack Your Parka: Camping World's Year-on-Year Pandemic Growth

Industry outlook for Sporting Goods in November 2021 showed an incredible pandemic effect on the industry:

Sporting Goods and Hobby brands performed better in 2021 overall compared to their pre-pandemic stats. They also beat spending and foot traffic compared to the higher-profile Automobile and Electronics sectors.

Check out the dashboard above to view performance for four major sporting brands: Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, REI, and Camping World. (Hold the screen horizontal on a mobile phone for optimal Tableau views!)

Traffic per brand shows a downward trend in 2021, but that's not the entire story.

Camping World saw year-on-year growth since 2019. A 5% bump between 2020 and 2019, and an additional 9% gain from 2021 to 2020. 2021 and 2019 comparisons show a 15% overall increase in foot traffic.

Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, and REI didn't fare as well, but Academy Sports + Outdoors remarkably regained most of its pre-pandemic traffic levels. No small feat, especially when compared to the Electronics sector, which has been hit hard in total foot traffic by supply chain woes.

When do these brands perform best? 

Viewing 2021 month by month shows all four brands suffer in total traffic after the new year and rebound by March, presumably in line with spring breaks. A second seasonal spike occurs at the close of second quarter with summer on the horizon. Traffic falls throughout the third quarter and early fourth quarter before boosting in the holiday shopping season.

Academy, REI, Bass Pro Shops and Camping World only compete H2H2H2H in four markets, three of which are in Texas, where Academy Sports is based and thoroughly dominates. The only other market all four compete in is Wake County, North Carolina, home to the state capital of Raleigh. Here, REI leads the pack, followed by Bass Pro, Academy and perennial H2H lagger, Camping World.

There are 13 states where at least three of the brands compete for visitation, including the economic powerhouses of California, Florida, and Illinois.

REI wins California with nearly 59% of total visitation, followed by Bass Pro Shops with about 32%. Academy doesn't compete here or much of anywhere west of Arizona.

Bass Pro Shops jumps to first in Florida with ~47% of total state visitation and much of southern Florida locked up. It's a dog fight in several individual counties with REI the only option in thriving Palm Beach County, and Academy Sports stealing more than a half dozen markets including Orange County and Lee County.

Why is Camping World the pandemic victor? 

Camping World seems to dominate just a few smaller, unchallenged markets. And the strategy works.

Other brands also dominate regionally. Illinois overall goes to Bass Pro with more than 1 million visits in 2021, or about 50% of the market. Bass Pro wins Illinois by controlling Lake and Will counties in the northeast of the state.

Bass Pro controls one of the few growing markets for visitation in Illinois: the statistically quirky Tazewell County, where foot traffic to the brand’s retail location grew by more than 20%.

Cross-visitation patterns are also key to establishing a valuable consumer picture. Topline cross-visitation shows the typical picture: big box stores, restaurants, and that ubiquitous coffee brand on every corner. Digging around across counties reveals some unique insights.

In REI's dominant Seattle sector, Snohomish County's most cross-visited brand is - wait for it - Nordstrom! Amazon 4 star and J.Jill (women’s apparel) also rank highly.

REI's trend of attracting a seemingly upward clientele plays out again and again in markets big and small, earning REI our nomination as the yuppie’s sports brand of choice.

REI, Bass Pro Shops, and Academy Sports are engaged in market competition. They dominate different areas of the country, and in some cases perhaps different demographics. Camping World seems to deal with competition by avoiding it whenever possible. Most of their stores in small markets have no local competition, but year-by-year gains show a winning strategy.

Takeaways

Camping World is pandemic immune. Will 2022 prove another banner year for this publicly-traded brand? 

REI, Bass Pro Shops, and Academy Sports + Outdoors duke it out across the country with pockets of success for each brand, while Camping World avoids the fray. Sporting goods brands should take note of markets where Camping World stands alone. Is it time they see some competition? 

Academy Sports + Outdoors was the only other brand besides Camping World to regain their pre-pandemic traffic levels. Perhaps they're a worthy competitor to take on Camping World's pandemic success.

Want to hear more? We'd love to chat with you about your business needs. Schedule a meeting or talktous@unacast.com.

We've also got the low-down on plenty of other industries impacted by the pandemic and supply chain strain. Scope it yourself for hotels, gas stations, and pharmacies. (Psst...we also did a piece on the recent Super Bowl too.)

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