Camping buying trends revealed by major UK retailer

The market is buoyant right now, of that we are all certain. But in how much detail have you analysed what is going on beyond just ‘things are great’? Probably not as much as you should have. Thankfully, for those readers concerned with the camping market in the United Kingdom, one of its biggest and best-known retail chains has conducted some thorough analysis of its sales patterns over the last year to reveal some interesting patterns in terms of customer behaviour. Cotswold Outdoor has some 60 stores throughout the UK and a thriving online business too, so it is very well placed to have its finger firmly on the pulse of what’s happening in the camping market at a retail level. 

Some of the key findings of the study include: UK-wide camping equipment sales have increased by 40 per cent compared to pre-pandemic figures, Scotland has seen the biggest sales boom (89 per cent increase), and monthly camping related searches online peaked in May 2021 when they were 400 per cent higher than the monthly average. All of this is impressive and useful information, but what is even more useful from this study is the geographical breakdown of where in the country camping sales are performing best and also what types of products are selling. 

Besides just revealing the hotspots for camping retail booms in the UK, the study from Cotswold Outdoors also showed which types of product categories have seen the most action in the last two years, and there are a few surprises. Year-on-year, the product category with the highest demand increase is camping picnic items (up 158 per cent), closely followed by children’s sleeping bags (110 per cent) and cookware (93 per cent). Stoves, lanterns, tables and chairs, two-person tents and sleeping mats all also saw good rises, but the real surprise was that six person tents or larger were down about 43 per cent. Cotswold reckons some of this could be because people have been camping in smaller groups in the last few years to practise social distancing, but it could also point to a trend for smaller tents and more backpacking over family-style home comfort tents. 

As already mentioned, May 2021 was the month where online camping related searches were at their peak, but in general camping has enjoyed good performance on Google. Cotswold compared camping related searches to those made for flights and discovered that they have remained above average for at least 90 per cent of the last year. Camping searches remained above those for flights for longer than in any normal year beforehand too. 

You can learn more about the study’s results via the Cotswold Outdoor interactive tool online.