As pandemic travel restrictions ease, the luggage and swimwear categories are showing distinct signs of recovery.
When consumer travel spending came to a halt in 2020, the travel accessories market in the U.S. lost $1.8 billion. However, following a mass rollout of vaccines this year, increased consumer interest in travel has led to a steady improvement in luggage sales, which continue to climb back to 2019 levels. In March and April, luggage sales returned to 80 percent of their 2019 levels, according to The NPD Group.
Further, an NPD consumer survey conducted this month showed that about one-third of respondents expect to return to their pre-pandemic leisure- and business-travel behavior in the next three months, and another quarter expect to do so within four to six months.
Starting in January, travel spending began to trend upward, with the exception of cruises. Spending on airlines, lodging and with online travel agencies grew 53 percent in March versus March 2020, and was nearly 90 percent higher than in February 2021, although remained about 30 percent below March 2019 levels.
“While luggage sales in the U.S. have not fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the market is moving in the right direction,” said Beth Goldstein, accessories and footwear industry analyst for NPD. “There is a lot of pent-up demand driving consumer travel aspirations, so travel accessories that are both functional and innovative will be the hot ticket items, as people prepare for upcoming trips.”
In addition to luggage sales, sales of swimwear have been on the upswing, another indicator that consumers are preparing to travel in the near term. The swimwear category has improved substantially since December 2020. In fact, March 2021 sales growth increased by 185 percent compared to 2020.
Total swimwear sales in March 2021 were up, even compared to before the pandemic, with dollars increasing 32 percent compared to March 2019, according to Retail Tracking Service information from NPD.
“As more consumers in the U.S. get vaccinated against COVID-19, and as regular travel resumes, the timing is right to ready themselves for swimsuit season,” said Kristen Classi-Zummo, director of apparel market insights for NPD. “During the spring break timeframe this year, we began seeing gains across all swimwear segments: men’s, women’s and children’s. People are ready to get outdoors and enjoy social settings again, and products related to travel will continue to benefit from those consumer behaviors.”
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