Today, we released details of new research which reveals that the appeal of outdoor activities has been boosted by enforced COVID-19 restrictions. In a survey of consumers in seven countries* – UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, Sweden – 70% of respondents stated that they are specifically looking forward to participating in outdoor activities after lockdown eases. In addition, 67% agreed that they have really missed being able to take part in pursuits such as hiking, climbing, cycling, snow sports and other mountain activities during lockdown, while 86% stated that outdoor activities are essential for people’s wellbeing. Across Europe, 58% of consumers said that they have missed outdoor activities above all else while restrictions have been in place.
The research was undertaken during late April and early May on behalf of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) and the It’s Great Out There Coalition by consumer trends specialist Foresight Factory, with 1,000 active consumers in each market completing the study. The outdoor sector in the seven countries that took part is worth €3.9bn at wholesale. The wide-ranging survey explored participation levels in different outdoor activities in detail and identified variations by country, age, gender and other demographic measures. The research also explored the barriers that prevent people getting active in the outdoors and identified opportunities for overcoming those.
Of those who completed the survey, 62% usually participate in outdoor activities about monthly or more often, while 29% do so a few times a year. The high level of respondents who are looking forward to doing more in the outdoors after restrictions ease provides a significant sign of optimism for the European outdoor sector and supports the European Outdoor Group’s recent open letter to authorities to do more to promote participation and provide guidance for the safe reopening of outdoor activities.
A series of questions about the impact of COVID-19 clearly revealed an increased appreciation of the outdoors as a result of the pandemic. Over 50% of respondents have had reduced physical activities outdoors during the outbreak and 58% have missed those above all else during confinement, rising to 72% in Spain and 65% in Italy, two countries which imposed some of the most restrictive lockdowns. 70% of respondents are now looking forward to participating in more outdoor activities as a priority when restrictions end. The impact of different lockdown strategies is clear. In Sweden, which did not impose mass confinement, there is not the same strength of feeling around missing outdoor activities or looking forward to resuming them.
Mark Held, EOG president, comments: “This is a comprehensive and robust piece of research in seven of the biggest outdoor markets in Europe, and the results are very clear. Wherever citizens have experienced significant restrictions, they have really missed the ability to access the outdoors. More than that, confinement has given active consumers a greater appreciation of the nature that they have been missing.
“The outdoor sector is absolutely ready to welcome everyone, from novice climbers to first-time hikers, but authorities across Europe also need to act and respond positively to this growing appetite. It is essential that the public is encouraged to participate in outdoor activities safely and responsibly with the right information from experts. The European Outdoor Group and It’s Great Out There Coalition will continue to campaign and support all such efforts, and we will work with all of our members and partners to help citizens everywhere as they get more active outdoors.”
The research results will be used to support the next stage of the pan-European #itsgreatoutthere campaign. The project is led by the It’s Great Out There Coalition, which was founded by the EOG to promote participation in outdoor activities across Europe. The coalition has a membership that includes some of Europe’s largest outdoor companies, who work together to inspire more people to get active outdoors. The #itsgreatoutthere team also collaborates closely with organisations such as the European Network of Outdoor Sports, the European Commission’s #BeActive project and other partners, to promote and facilitate outdoor participation.
The EOG and It’s Great Out There Coalition will work with key stakeholders throughout Europe over the coming months and use the insights from the research, to enhance the promotion of outdoor participation and maximise the impact of all activity to encourage citizens to head into nature in a safe and responsible way.
Read and download a presentation of key findings from the research below.
*Research methodology. Citizens were invited to take part in an online survey in seven European countries. A total of 1,000 interviews per country took place. Consumers were aged 16+ and quotas were set on gender and age to make the responses nationally representative. Other key demographics were also collected such as income, family structure and place of dwelling. All consumers had to have a minimum level of activity – those who did no physical activity were screened out as they would not be able to answer the survey.