Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Catching Up On The Outdoors: Sierra & National Parks

Bracha Arnold
June 16, 2022
Catching Up On The Outdoors: Sierra & National Parks

With summer almost upon us, we took a look at foot traffic trends associated with a classic American activity – spending time in nature. We dove into visits to 20 national and state parks as well as foot traffic to a rising star in the recreational equipment space, Sierra, to see what its strength can tell us about the demand for leisure time in the great outdoors. 

Sierra’s Continued Market Dominance

With the recent rise in costs of consumer goods and services, people may be turning to outdoor activities as a cost-friendly leisure option. Sierra, an off-price camping and outdoor recreation retailer owned by TJX Companies (which also owns T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeSense and HomeGoods), has been benefiting from the growing interest in both outdoor activities and consumer demand for low-cost alternatives. 

Despite the challenges currently facing many retailers, year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visit numbers indicate that Sierra is continuing its growth, with visits in April and May 2022 up 105.4% and 99.7%, respectively, when compared to the same months in 2019.  

Some of the foot traffic increase can be attributed to Sierra’s rapidly expanding store fleet. The brand went from 27 stores at the end of fiscal 2018 to 59 at the end of fiscal 2021, and since more stores usually translate into more foot traffic, this foot increase is to be expected. But in Sierra’s case, Yo3Y visits per venue are also up. This shows the strength of the concept, as Sierra executed a significant store expansion during a pandemic, kept its foot traffic positive throughout one of the most challenging periods for brick-and-mortar stores, and are continuing to pull customers into each individual location.

Sierra Still has Significant Room for Growth

When looking at visits compared to previous years, overall visits are still up, and visits per venue have skyrocketed – year over year (YoY) visits in May 2022 were up 14.5% overall and up 84.2% on a visits per venue basis.  This means that Sierra’s physical expansion is successfully filling an existing demand for low-cost outdoor gear and that the retailer still has significant room to grow.  

This sustained, impressive growth is also a testament to the high consumer demand for off-price outdoor equipment. Generally speaking, the off-price model – where items are sold at a significant discount – is still relatively uncommon in the recreational sector, allowing Sierra to dominate the market. 

But competition may be starting to heat up – Dick’s Sporting Goods recently launched two discount athletic gear brands – Going, Going, Gone! and Dick’s Warehouse Sale. With these new concepts, as well as its Public Lands brand, Sierra may soon find themselves sharing the off-price and camping gear market with another major player.

National Parks Doing Well

The rise of Sierra goes hand in hand with the heightened demand for outdoor activities. Camping has long been a popular American pastime, and COVID restrictions only increased interest in visiting state and national parks.  Many national and state parks received a serious boost in foot traffic during the pandemic. The combination of affordable entry fees, outdoor (and therefore, socially-distant) options, and accessibility – each state in the country boasts several beautiful parks – made national parks an excellent vacation destination. 

Year-over-year visits were down in the new year, but this may be  due to the unusually high visits of early 2021. Visits to national parks tend to be lower in the winter months, but winter 2021 likely received an artificial boost in park foot traffic from visitors looking for a COVID-friendly activity. 

And despite the drop in YoY visits, Yo3Y foot traffic has remained consistently strong, with April 2022 visits up 9.6% relative to April 2019. The strong Yo3Y numbers indicate that the interest in outdoor activities was not just a fad – instead, it looks like COVID led to a long-term increase in interest in the outdoors, which may also be one of the factors driving Sierra’s success. And while foot traffic did fall in May 2022, the drop is likely due to exceptionally low Memorial Day visits rather than to waning demand for nature-based activities

May Gas Price Challenges

May 2022 visits took a tumble relative to previous months, seeing visits per venue dip into the negative – reaching -14.7% Yo3Y – for the first time in 12 months. But, context here is key. Memorial Day, which falls the last weekend of May, usually provides a significant visit boost to state and national parks. But this year’s high gas prices seems to have kept Memorial Day visits lower than anticipated – the Monday of Memorial Day weekend saw a 23.2% and 36.2% dip in Yo3Y and YoY visits per venue, respectively. Since most of the national and state parks are only accessible by car, concerns over high gas prices likely kept vacationers and cost-conscious consumers closer to home, choosing to spend their gas budget on local attractions instead.

But, May’s lower visits might be just a small blip on the overall increase in park visits, with the US Secretary of Commerce announcing a four-step plan to boost tourism to national parks, and as attitudes towards rising gas prices shift toward acceptance

As national parks continue to grow in popularity, and as consumers continue to seek lower-cost options where possible, both national parks and off-price outdoor retailers can expect to see continued growth.

For more data-driven insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Pent-Up Demand Ahead of October Sales Events
4 Strategies Retailers are Using to Drive Traffic to Their Venues
5 Key Regional Grocery Players Impressing in 2023
Upscale Kitchenware Trending Up
Costco Finds More Room for Growth
Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade
National Parks + Outdoor Summer Activities
Diving Into Darden: Summer 2023 Update
The Summer Event Effect
Messi: Massive in Miami
Looking Back on Back to School 2023
The Anchor Recap: August 2023 Office Index: August 2023 Recap Mall Index: August 2023 Recap White Paper Recap: August 2023
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Strikes Again
Big Scoop: We All Scream For Ice Cream
Sports Away: Lululemon & Nike’s Momentum Continues
Summer Visits Heat Up For Recreation and Outdoor Gear Chains
No CSS overwrite - July 2023 Office Index Recap
Staging - August 2023 Mall Indec
Mid-Atlantic Grocery Deep Dive
Experiential Chains Heating Up This Summer
Petco Goes Big by Going Small
Ulta Beauty: Leading the Discretionary Pack
Discount and Dollar Chains Continue to Thrive
Summer of Sports: DICK’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports
Off-Price: Succeeding Into Summer
The Anchor Recap: July 2023
Superstores Maintaining Pandemic Gains Amidst Economic Headwinds
2023: Home Improvement at the Halfway Point
July 2023 Office Index Recap Mall Index: July 2023 Recap
widget test
The Taylor Swift Visit Lift
Southwestern Grocery Dive
July 2023 White Paper Recap: Halfway Point Review & Quarterly Index
Yum! Brands: Driving Dining Visits
Slurpees and Summer Movies Stimulate Consumer Foot Traffic
Cool Beans: Summer Coffee Update
Checking In on Back to School 2023
Crocs and New Balance Tip The Scales
Burger Bliss: Shake Shack and In-N-Out Stacking Visits
Chipotle & McDonald's Continue to Reign Supreme
Vibenomics and Partner to Enhance Retail Media In-Store Measurement
California Grocers Here We Come!
Marriott’s Different Audiences
Bonchon and Kura Sushi Thrive in the Fast-Casual Scene
A Shoe In: Footwear Climbs to the Top
Cheers! Raising a Glass to Beverage Retail Office Index: June 2023 Recap Mall Index June 2023 Recap – A Turn of the Tide and a Dive into Open-Air Lifestyle Centers
Local Kitchens: Redefining the Restaurant
Unlocking Urban Insights: The Value in Manhattan’s Employees
Ohio State Parks On The Rise
How is Inflation Impacting the High-Income Shoppers?
Five Fast-Growing Dining Chains
What To Expect From Prime Day and July Sales Events in 2023
The State Of Fashion: How Are Apparel Retailers Faring in 2023?
2023’s Latest Dining Success Story: GEN Korean BBQ House
The NBA Finals: A Location Intelligence Perspective
Moving the Market: The Impact of Domestic Migration on Housing Costs
Post-Pandemic Museum Update
The Darden-est Things
The Enduring Demand for Urban and Suburban Retail
Leveraging Data to Evaluate the Impact of Municipal Investments
Trader Joe's Success Amidst Food Inflation and Changing Consumer Behavior Office Index: May 2023 Recap
Fitness at its Fittest: Staying Strong in 2023
Movie Theaters, Off-Price, and Home Improvement: May 2023 Recap Mall Index - May 2023 Recap
What’s Working for Bath & Body Works?
Why Are Specialty Grocers Thriving in 2023?
The CAVA Craze: A Location Intelligence Perspective on the Mediterranean Marvel
How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?
All Eyes on Eyewear
Northwestern U.S. Grocery Dive
Return of the Lunch: Salad Chains Are Thriving
Retail Media Networks – Off the Beaten Track
Bet Your Bottom Dollar: Discount and Dollar Stores Drive Foot Traffic
Ulta & Lululemon: Discretionary Spending On The Up
The Score After Q1: Sporting Goods Chains
Who Uses NYC Airports: Biting Into The Big Apple’s Main Transport Hubs
Off Price: Strength in The Face of Retail Challenges
Visits Improve for Home Improvement
Walmart, Target & Wholesalers in Q1 2023 – The Return of Mission-Driven Shopping?
Department Store Roundup: Q1 2023 Office Index: April 2023 Recap Mall Index, April 2023 – A Rebound on the Horizon?
How Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bankruptcy Impact the Retail Space?
Buffet Restaurants: Filling Up on Foot Traffic
Thrift Stores: Vintage Visits Drive New Age in Apparel
The Windy City: A Hub of Post-Pandemic Opportunity
Diving into Dining Traffic - Q1 2023
Bring On The Joe
A Dollar (or more) For Your Thoughts: Five Below and pOpshelf
Dining Out With The Cheesecake Factory
Retail Foot Traffic Recap – March 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update Office Index: March 2023 Recap