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ORR Survey Shows Pandemic’s Impact on Rec Industry

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An Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) member survey, in partnership with the Oregon State University Outdoor Recreation Economy Initiative, found that the outdoor recreation industry is facing dramatically decreased sales and revenue, difficulties with production and distribution and large numbers of furloughs and layoffs.

ORR surveyed its member trade associations representing more than 100,000 businesses from RVing and camping to boating and fishing to hunting and biking businesses about the impacts their organizations and member companies have felt since the pandemic began.

Here is the summary of the responses from the 20 participating national outdoor recreation trade associations, representing businesses with nearly 2 million employees:

  • Of the businesses this survey represents, 89 percent, are experiencing difficulty with production and distribution, with 68 percent experiencing significant impacts.
  • 79 percent of these businesses have laid off or furloughed a portion of their workforce, with 11 percent closing, or laying off most of or all of staff.
  • 89 percent of outdoor industry businesses are experiencing a decrease in sales with 39 percent seeing a decrease of 50 to 75 percent or greater.
  • 80 percent of outdoor industry trade associations are seeing a decrease in revenue with 30 percent seeing a decrease of 50 to 75 percent or greater.

“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,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “Just a few short months ago outdoor recreation was growing faster than almost any other industry, contributed over 778 billion dollars to the U.S. economy and employed over 5.2 million Americans. To see that 79 percent of outdoor businesses have had to lay off or furlough employees and that 89 percent are seeing decreased revenue is jaw dropping.”

Recent national unemployment data verifies that some recreation-based communities are seeing disproportionate increases in unemployment averaging 57 percent in Colorado and 25 percent in New Mexico.

ORR stated that it is working on fixes to the CARES Act to help more small businesses in the recreation sector and urging Congress to take further action to help the outdoor recreation industry and rural partners by passing the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) as soon as possible.

GAOA includes essential funding for the maintenance backlog on our public lands that will help to stimulate local communities, according to ORR. It also provides full funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund,.

“A significant portion of RV Industry Association’s revenue comes from seals placed on RVs as they are built. With the vast majority of RV production shut down for the past month as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Association has seen a significant drop in revenue,” said RVIA Vice President of Government Affairs Jay Landers. “The strong position of the RV industry heading into the crisis as well the potential for RVs to be the ideal way to travel while adhering to social distancing once it is safe to travel again, could mitigate the long-term impact on the industry. But for now, we are hurting along with so many across the country.”

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