Travel Goods Association Releases State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market 2003–2015: It Was a Good Year

iStock_000083622263_SmallPrinceton, NJ – Consumers bought more of some types of travel goods than others in 2015, but no matter what they purchased they paid more, according to a new report released by the Travel Goods Association (TGA). Travel goods include luggage, backpacks, travel/sports bags, business cases/computer bags, handbags, totes/duffels, personal leather goods, and luggage locks. TGA estimates that sales of travel goods hit a record in 2015 (an estimated $36.1 billion) with U.S. consumers spending 13% more than the previous year.

“All-time low gas prices and an improving economy combined to create another great year for the U.S. travel goods industry,” explains TGA President Michele Marini Pittenger. “Consumers just felt better about buying travel goods in 2015 and we gave them good products to buy at prices they were willing to pay.”

Rising supply chain costs continued to plague the industry in 2015, but the industry also continued to demonstrate its resiliency by giving consumers the right product at the right price. “In the face of rising costs,” continued Pittenger, “our industry employed innovation and supply chain efficiencies to turn 2015 into another great year.”

Thanks to TGA’s success in pushing new trade legislation through Congress and advocating for a strong trade deal, “the industry will have even more opportunities to reduce costs in 2016 and beyond,” concluded Pittenger.

Here’s a quick look at how TGA estimates each of the major travel goods categories performed in 2015.


Record low gas prices propelled luggage sales in 2015. According to TGA estimates, 2015 luggage unit sales only grew 1.2% by volume, however they grew 2.4% by value. Consumers were willing to pay more to get the right product as they traveled more often. As a result, 2015’s average unit price for luggage increased 1.2%.


If sales of backpacks in 2015 are any indication, Americans continued to embrace the casualization of the workplace, fashion and the great outdoors. Backpacks were the number one choice of consumers to carry all of their gear, eating into sales of computer cases, business cases, handbags, and personal leather goods. Unit sales of backpacks surged 22.3% by volume and 25.9% by value in 2015 as Americans bought a record-breaking 176.1 million backpacks throughout the year. Reversing many years of price declines, the sales surge translated into higher prices with unit prices growing 3.0% in 2015.


The travel/sports bag market grew 4.9% in 2015. Growth stemmed from an improving economy as more and more companies returned to providing customers “freebies,” or promotional bags. At the same time, consumers continued to gravitate towards the use of large totes and similar bags for both work and pleasure. Sales by value rose 6.3% leading to a 1.3% increase in average unit price in 2015.


Fashion backpack and large tote sales continued to eat away at handbag sales with those sales falling 6.0% in 2015. However, unit sales by value surged 15.0%. Discerning consumers increasingly chose better handbags that cost more, driving average unit prices 22.2% in 2015. Despite stagnant sales, American women still bought 237.9 million handbags in 2015 or almost two handbags, on average, for every female in the U.S. over the age of 14.


Unit sales of business cases and computer bags slid 12.3% in 2015 as consumers increasingly looked to backpacks and other non-traditional travel goods for work. However, with the economy continuing to improve, those who did buy chose utility and value over price. As a result, the average unit price for business cases and computers bags increased 24.2% in 2015.


The slowdown in sales of smartphones and tablets, and the growth in sales of backpacks and other items that have built-in protection for these items, translated into falling sales for the covers that protect these expensive purchases. Sales by volume fell 4.3% in 2015. The saving grace was not only the growing focus on these covers as the latest fashion accessory but also the growing need of a quality cover that actually protects your purchase. These issues drove average unit prices up 24.2% in 2015.


Luggage locks came back into vogue in 2015 and grew 31.1% by volume as personal security concerns outweighed TSA security requirements. But, prices failed to keep pace driving average unit prices down 27.1% in 2015.

For more information, go to TGA’s just released State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market 2003-2015 Graphs or contact TGA at 877-842-1938, x-702 to learn more about the latest trends in the U.S. travel goods market.