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A New Survey Shows How Hard the Outdoor Industry Has Been Impacted by the Coronavirus

The coronavirus crisis has wreaked havoc on the greater footwear industry. And a new survey breaks down just how bad it is for the outdoor market.

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, a coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and organizations, released a member survey yesterday that was done in partnership with the Oregon State University Outdoor Recreation Economy Initiative. (Its membership includes Outdoor Industry Association, Sports & Fitness Industry Association and several others.) The survey revealed dramatically decreased sales and revenue, production and distribution difficulties, furloughs and layoffs and more since the start of the pandemic.

Key findings of the survey include 89% of the businesses are experiencing difficulty with production and distribution, 79% have laid off or furloughed a portion of their workforce (including 11% laying off most of or all of their staff), 89% of outdoor industry businesses are experiencing a decrease in sales (including 39% seeing a decrease of 50-75% or greater) and 80% of outdoor industry trade associations are seeing a decrease in revenue (with 30% seeing a decrease of 50-75% or greater).

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“We knew there have been tremendous impacts to our members and to the entire outdoor recreation industry, but our survey results show the traumatic impact on every sector and to the heart of this once thriving economic engine,” Outdoor Recreation Roundtable executive director Jessica Wahl said in a statement. “Just a few short months ago outdoor recreation was growing faster than almost any other industry, contributed over $778 billion to the U.S. economy and employed over 5.2 million Americans. To see that 79% of outdoor businesses have had to lay off or furlough employees and that 89% are seeing decreased revenue is jaw dropping.”

Retail and industry event giants have not been immune to the impact of the coronavirus. Retail giant REI, for instance, announced on April 6 an unpaid 90-day furlough of the majority of its retail and field employees in a letter emailed to consumers, which began April 15. And four days earlier, leading industry expo Outdoor Retailer announced the cancellation of its summer show in Denver, which was scheduled for June 23 to 25.

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