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Pandemic Causing Declining Sales, Increasing Interest In Outdoor Recreation

Department of Interior

Most businesses in the outdoor recreation industry are seeing sales decline because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and 88% are reporting that they’ve had to lay off or furlough employees.

Those are the findings from a survey conducted by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, a coalition of outdoor trade groups and businesses.

“Every company, every facet of [the] supply chain, from manufacturing to distribution to retail, service providers, shut down completely,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director for the coalition.

“Doors closed, no business, for three months,” she added.

This interruption means it’s going to take some time for the industry to recover.

“It’s not like we were normal and we’re going back to normal. We were shut down for three months and now we’re going back to a new normal that looks really different than it did in February,” Wahl said.

However, there are some positive signs for the industry moving forward. For one, the coalition said sales of RVs, bikes and fishing licenses are up, as well as interest in outdoor recreation.

“We’re very optimistic about getting everything back up and running and being able to garner and capture this new and sustained interest in outdoor recreation,” said Vice President Lindsey Davis.

The group says one thing that could help in the short-term is if Congress passes the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide funding for maintenance backlogs and create thousands of outdoor jobs.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Copyright 2021 KUNR Public Radio. To see more, visit KUNR Public Radio.

Noah Glick is from the small town of Auburn, Indiana and comes to KUNR from the Bay Area, where he spent his post-college years learning to ride his bike up huge hills. He’s always had a love for radio, but his true passion for public radio began when he discovered KQED in San Francisco. Along with a drive to discover the truth and a degree in Journalism from Ball State University, he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to local news coverage.
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