OIA: Outdoor Industry Worth $887 Billion

Americans spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation. That’s the claim leveled by a new report by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).

The OIA released the report today. It also states that the outdoors industry supports 7.6 million American jobs, and generates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue each year.

The outdoor industry first trumpeted a big economic impact in 2016 with the passage of the REC act. The REC Act quantifies the outdoor industry’s economic contribution to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It gives the industry increased political clout, especially when compared with other titans of industry. According to these numbers, the outdoors industry generates more revenue than the automotive and pharmaceutical industries.

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“From the smallest rural towns to the most densely populated cities, outdoor recreation makes America stronger,” said Amy Roberts, OIA executive director. “This report makes clear that the outdoor recreation economy is not only thriving, but a powerful economic force that embodies the American spirit.”

What Is The Outdoors Industry?

The $887 billion in spending crosses several disparate industries in the outdoors. These include biking, skiing and snowboarding, hiking, water sports, camping, fishing, hunting, off-roading, and wildlife viewing. This year, the OIA also included data on seven new activities: surfing, skateboarding, horseback riding, running (more than three miles), mountaineering, scuba diving, and sailing.

The economic impact of sports like ski and snowboard is clear at events like SIA

The OIA is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of the Outdoor Retailer (OR) convention. It serves more than 1,200 manufacturers, suppliers, sales representatives, and retailer members. It advocates for trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation, and outdoor participation.

Survey Sampling International (SSI) gathered the data. REI, Patagonia, The North Face, W.L. Gore, People for Bikes, The Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), and The Outdoor Foundation sponsored the report.

OIA Flexing Political Muscle

The report comes a day before President Donald Trump is expected to issue an order calling for a review of two decades of National Monument designations.

The order, expected to be signed Wednesday, will instruct the Department of the Interior to review national monument designations made by Trump’s three presidential predecessors. It could derail protections made under the Antiquities Act that protect millions of acres of public lands across the United States.

The OIA recently pulled its bi-annual trade show from Utah in protest of political actions by Gov. Gary Herbert. To the ire of many leaders in the industry, Herbert signed a resolution urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument.

This move set off a cascade of brands boycotting the convention. Ultimately, OR pledged to leave the state, bringing with it $45 million in annual spending.

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The OIA will lobby Washington tomorrow at its 25th-annual Capitol Summit. According to the Denver Post, 130 outdoor industry leaders will urge lawmakers to support recreational use of Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park land.

Other Findings According To The OIA

In the report, the OIA drew several conclusions that show the outdoor industry’s muscle. The report claims:

  • Every year, American consumers spend more on outdoor recreation ($887 billion) than on education ($278 billion), gasoline and fuels ($304 billion), household utilities ($313 billion), motor vehicles and parts ($465 billion), or pharmaceuticals ($466 billion).
  • Spending on outdoor recreation outpaces other popular activities:
    Water sports gear ($14 billion) versus movie tickets ($11 billion)
    Trail sports gear ($20 billion) versus home entertainment ($18 billion)
  • National parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments, and other public lands and waters account for $45 billion in economic output, and about 396,000 jobs nationwide.

The OIA will release a follow up report later this year. It will analyze all 50 states and all 435 U.S. congressional districts.

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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