RV Industry Grows While Overall Outdoor Recreation Economy Takes a Hit

New Report Examines Impact of the Pandemic on the Outdoor Industry

Image Caption: Image Courtesy welcomia/Getty

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released its annual report tracking just how much of a contribution outdoor recreation makes to the US economy. After analyzing the data from 2020, the BEA determined that due to the COVID pandemic and persistent supply chain issues, the economic impact of the outdoor industry decreased by 12.5%. Meanwhile, the RV industry saw its impact grow by 2.7% over the same time period.

According to the BEA’s analysis, outdoor recreation makes up 1.8% of the US Gross Domestic Product, representing more than $688 billion in economic output. The industry also supports 4.3 million jobs and contributes to the economies of all 50 states. Unsurprisingly, those numbers were down from 2019, when the industry generated $788 billion and employed 5.2 million people.

RVing was the second largest contributor to the outdoor economy in 2020, trailing behind boating and fishing. Spurred on by a surge in interest, the RV industry added $19.1 billion to the US economy, while boating/fishing raked in $30.8 billion. Snowsports—which includes skiing and snowmobiling—was third with $4.7 billion in added value.

outdoor rv industry

Image courtesy of Marco_Bonfanti/Getty

2020 saw a record number of people take part in outdoor recreation amidst the ongoing pandemic. The BEA’s report reflects this with a 6.8% growth in the “conventional outdoor recreation” category that includes hiking, biking, boating, and RVing. “Supporting outdoor recreation,” which is where travel and tourism falls, saw a 3.9% decrease, while the “other outdoor recreation” (gardening, outdoor concerts, etc.) category fell by nearly 3%.

Ongoing supply chain issues contributed to the drop in revenue, despite a surge in demand for bikes, kayaks, and other equipment. A lack of inventory prevented consumers from purchasing the products they wanted throughout last year and into 2021. This is something that hasn’t impacted the RV industry, which has seen record sales numbers in recent months.

For further information on the report, visit the BEA website.

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