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Concerns over a second wave of the coronavirus haven’t stopped Americans from finding ways to stay both social and active as winter nears. 

Similar to sales of fire pits and disposable campfires, cold weather sporting gear and apparel are in high demand. This includes skis, ice skates, snow boots, and puffer jackets, according to retailers like REI. And as traditional brands look to cash in, emerging niche outdoor brands are also hitting the market, looking to capitalize.

At REI, the company is experiencing “significant increases” in demand for snow shoes, at rates currently four times higher than the same period last year. At the same time, demand for cross-country skis has nearly tripled year-over-year, according to data provided to Business Insider. 

In preparation for cold-weather activities and extended periods of time outside, items like parkas are also flying off shelves. According to the retail analytics firm Edited, the sell-out rate for parkas has grown by 89% year-over-year in the US, while items like leather jackets are selling out at a rate 136% higher than last year in the UK. 

The demand comes amid uncertainty surrounding whether venues like ski resorts and lodges will be able to open safely this winter. Many have announced tentative opening plans with significant modifications and restrictions. Earlier this summer, some companies began offering discounted advance passes to members, while devising health-conscious strategies like introducing new ski lift loading methods and minimizing or closing indoor dining. 

According to Durk Stelter, chief revenue officer at customer experience automation company Linc Global, retailers can expect to see demand for outdoor activity gear to continue to grow into the winter months, much as it did during the summer — causing shortages on everything from bicycles to rollerblades. 

“As we have seen throughout the pandemic, the need for outdoor equipment has increased dramatically,” Stelter said. “With bikes, camping gear, and sport utility equipment being sold out and back-ordered for months, we should expect nothing less as we head into the winter sports seasons.”

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Stelter added that he expects heightened spending on outdoor equipment and sporting gear this holiday season, especially as the $450 billion spent by consumers during the 2019 holiday season on services like food, travel, and sporting events — activities and experiences that have all been severely limited during the pandemic — is now “up for grabs.” 

“This holiday, we should expect shoppers to invest more in outdoor winter equipment, such as skis and snowmobiles, as more people look for ways to stay outdoors in a socially-distanced environment,” he said. “The good news is manufacturers have had more time to position for increased inventory, but it is still to be seen if they were able to overcome covid restrictions to meet the unexpectedly high demand.”

Meanwhile, emerging companies like Ski Skates — which boasts “the shortest skis in the world” and “the only skis that fit into your backpack” — are also seeing an influx in interest. Created in the Czech Republic in 2019, Ski Skates operates “like ice skates for …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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