Woman in the snow warming hands

REI projects a notable shift in customer shopping habits this winter and holiday season

Demand for winter gear, bikes, and outdoor portable stoves at an all-time high

Oct 28, 2020

As temperatures cool, early sales trends indicate that REI Co-op will see an unprecedented year with sales of winter gear at an all-time high – suggesting that the co-op community does not intend to stay inside this winter. Customer demand for products like bikes and outdoor furniture has been off the charts since the start of the pandemic, and customer demand for winter gear like cross-country skis and snowshoes are already up more than three and four times, respectively, over last year. Additionally, REI has seen an increased interest in entry-level gear categories, indicating more people are prioritizing outdoor recreation in their lives, some for the very first time.

“Getting out into nature is one of the best ways to stay balanced during this stressful time, and our numbers are showing more Americans are doing just that. We’ve expanded inventory and continue to pivot however we can, to help more people get outside,” says Ben Johns, REI general merchandising manager for action sports. “This includes letting customers shop however they feel most comfortable, whether it’s on REI.com, curbside pick-up, getting virtually outfitted, or buying and trading in used-gear, we’re offering customers more options than ever before.”

REI is not alone in recognizing this trend, as NPD Group recently confirmed the greater outdoor industry has seen similar trends building through the year, and also nods to expectations of continued interest in outdoor gear as more people try new activities this year.

The latest winter and holiday inventory is available now on REI.com, and in the stores, in time for the seasonal change. For the best selection, the co-op encourages customers to shop early, especially for products in trending categories that are centered around snow play, around the campfire, close-to-home fitness, and holiday gifts.

Snow play:

Snowshoes such as the women’s  and men’s MSR Revo Explore, and other snow related gear such as cross country skis, insulated boots, and winter hiking gear also trending upwards over last year.

Additionally, customers are looking for apparel with increased interest in items like next-to-skin base layers, mid-layers, and outerwear, as dressing in layers is recommended to help people stay warm and active outdoors during the cold weather. REI’s Co-op Brands gear and apparel is designed for everyone and offers quality gear and apparel at an incredible price point. This winter, Co-op Brands introduces the REI Co-op First Chair outerwear/ REI Co-op Powderbound outerwear designed especially to help outdoor adventurers stay comfortable in the snow while skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing.

Around the campfire:

With the correct gear, cold weather will not stop socially distant social opportunities. In addition to layering clothing and dressing for cold weather, REI is also seeing increased customer demand for items that help people get outside in the yard or on the back of the tailgate after an outdoor outing. Interest in items such as the Solo Stove Fire Pit have been increasing steadily since July. Other items to keep people cozy and outdoors longer include the REI Co-op Outward Padded Bench, Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler and wearable blankets.

Close-to-home fitness: 

In addition to bicycles, bicycle trainers like the Wahoo Fitness KICKR SNAP Smart Trainer, continue to sell quickly this year, and provide a great option for people to stay fit and prepare for outside adventures. Additionally, fitness monitors; winter traction products and road running shoes continue to be high in demand, with sales of close-to-home fitness products double compared to this time last year.

Holiday:

The co-op launched its online holiday gift guide early this year, to provide ideas and inspiration for those shopping for the best selection. Whether it is a lighter weight backpacking chair, or an updated fleece jacket, a mug for sipping tea or a day pack for hiking, the co-op has a little something special for everyone. For the best winter selection, plus free shipping on orders of $50 or more (including skis and snowboards for a limited time), the co-op recommends shopping early.

For those wanting to give a bit differently this year, or extend the life of their products, the co-op introduced its used gear trade-in program. Members can send in gently used gear in exchange for an REI gift card. Along with its online Good and Used gear shop, members have more ways to buy and share gently used outdoor gear and apparel and keep high-quality products rotating through the co-op community at more accessible price points.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 168 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 200 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.