Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Manufacturing, Other Date: September 2020

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Demand is outpacing supply of RVs, boats, bicycles and more. 

Social distancing rules implemented during the pandemic have caused an unexpected boom in Canada's recreation sector. Camping, biking, boating and golf are some activities that have been deemed safe, and Canadians are embracing them with renewed vigor.

Recreational vehicle sales and rental companies have seen business boom this summer, and it makes sense: with vacation options limited, RVs offer the opportunity for families to travel together, eat together and rest together in a confined, socially distanced environment.

Boat sales and rentals have also spiked during the summer of 2020. Many boat dealers have noticed people either trying it for the first time or upgrading their existing boats for newer, bigger models, leaving one businessman to predict that “we are going to have one of our best years in a decade.”

Bicycles have also become a hot commodity in 2020. Cycling not only allows the rider the opportunity for exercise, but a chance to commute without taking public transit. Many cities (including Toronto) have accommodated this shift by opening additional bike lanes.

Demand has stretched beyond boats and RVs: Consumers have also taken to golf, camping, paddleboarding and birdwatching. The trend is expected to continue through winter: Statista reports that revenue in the winter sports equipment segment is expected to grow by 3.9% annually from 2020 to 2023. Canada is the world's sixth-largest winter recreation equipment market, with an estimated $509 million USD in annual revenue.

The only problem has been supply. Canadian consumers have found themselves short of purchase options due to supply chain disruptions and increased demand. The bicycle market has been particularly hard hit, especially with regard to models under $1,000. Some estimates suggest new bicycles might not be available until next year. Reports have also suggested that other outdoor equipment such as tents, life jackets and dehydrated camping foods are also sold out.

Wisconsin-based sports and recreation equipment suppliers could find an eager and receptive market for their goods in Canada.