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Princeton, NJ — In 2020, the pandemic brought the economy, and travel, to a standstill, bringing the U.S. travel goods industry its worst year in decades, 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 in the United States only reached $19.1 billion in 2020, a 41.2% drop from 2019.
“2020 was the perfect storm for the industry. Not only did the pandemic wreak havoc on the economy, it also brought travel, a key driver for the industry, to a standstill,” explains Michele Marini Pittenger, TGA’s president.
“In addition to the pandemic, the 25% tax increase imposed on our industry and our 100,000 American workers by our own government meant that we had to increase prices when already few people were buying, slash prices and take a huge loss, or hold significant inventory at a huge expense and without any revenue to cover it,” Pittenger stated.
The 25% punitive tariffs on U.S. imports of travel goods from China, imposed May 10, 2019, remain in place. 99% of travel goods sold in the U.S. market are imported, by an industry comprised primarily of small and medium family-owned businesses and their 100,000 American workers. In 2020, 56.0% of U.S. travel goods imports were from China. For comparison, in 2016, before the U.S./China trade war, 84.3% of U.S. travel goods imports were from China. Note that these punitive tariffs are in addition to the normal import tariffs of travel goods that average 17.6%-20%.
“The only good thing about 2020 is that it is over,” said Pittenger, “yet our own government is still imposing this 25% hidden tax on our industry, severely hamstringing the industry as we try to recover from the worst year in our history.”
2020 State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market – In U.S. Dollars
2020 State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market – In Units
Here’s a quick look at how TGA estimates each of the major travel goods categories performed in 2020:
The pandemic devastated both travel and the economy, giving luggage its worst year on record, with sales falling 52.7% in 2020, even with a huge 14.8% decline in average prices.
With no back-to-school (BTS) and no travel, backpacks took it on the nose in 2020. The only saving grace was consumers’ embrace of the great outdoors, which meant that backpack sales “only” fell 38.5% in 2020, with average prices slipping 4.6%.
With no business conferences/shows and no travel, travel/sports bag sales fell 33.5% in 2020.
Business Cases/Computer Bags
With no one going to work during the pandemic, demand for business cases/computer bags tanked in 2020, falling 43.9%.
With no one going out during the pandemic, and no one going to work, sales of handbags fell a whopping 41.6% in 2020.
Personal Leather Goods
With no one traveling, going to school, or going to work, sales of personal leather goods fell 39.8% in 2020.
With no one traveling, no one needed luggage locks, with sales declining 53.2% in 2020.
For more information, go to TGA’s just released State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market 2005-2020 (PDF format) or contact TGA at 877-842-1938, x-702 to learn more about the latest trends in the U.S. travel goods market.