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Report shows outdoor participation up in U.S. as Outdoor Retailer trade show returns to Salt Lake

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jun 19, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of exhibitors are back in Salt Lake City today as part of the summer event for Outdoor Retailer.

After six years away from the Beehive State, the outdoor industry trade show is back in Salt Lake City for the second time this year.

"We have more than 700 brands that are actually out here showing their products, and of those 700 brands, we actually have more than 200 who are new to the show," said Sean Smith, the acting show director for Outdoor Retailer.

That includes retailers like LOWA Boots.

Lesley Christoph with LOWA Boots says the German-based company has been producing outdoor footwear for the past 100 years.

"We've been coming to Outdoor Retailer for at least 25 years, from the late '90s on every single year," Christoph said.

Smith said the brands set up inside the Salt Palace Convention Center are showcasing a wide variety of items. That includes anything from food products to hiking and camping gear.

"A retailer who owns a large outdoor store or a small mom-and-pop retail store will come here to see what's new and buy products to put in their stores to then sell to the outdoor enthusiast," said Smith.

On Monday, the 2023 Annual Outdoor Participating Trends Report was released by the Outdoor Industry Association.

The report shows the outdoor recreation participating base grew 2.3% in 2022, to a record of 168.1 million participants. That equates to 55% of the U.S. population over the age of six years old.

"We think that the pandemic really pushed many people to come to this realization that 'I need to get outdoors, I just need to feel some fresh air,'" said Kent Ebersole, the president of the Outdoor Industry Association.

Key findings in the report also show the participation rate for the Hispanic community increased from 34% in 2015 to 56% in 2022, the highest participant growth rate for any single group.

The report revealed that seniors now represent one in every five outdoor participants.

"It's a healthy industry and when it grows, we grow," said Ebersole. "However, we are still dealing with the impact of the pandemic, and that impact is an up and down amount of activity."

As for retailers like LOWA Boots, Christoph says business has trended up pretty steadily since 2020, something they hope continues.

"First and foremost, our hope is that our brand will be seen by new buyers," said Christoph.

Outdoor Retailer will wrap up on Wednesday at 4 p.m.