Travel Goods Association Releases State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market 2005-2021:
Sunny Days Ahead for Travel Goods Sector
Princeton, NJ — Things began to look up for the travel goods market after the turbulent and trying year of 2020 marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. With gradual easing of mask mandates and travel restrictions lifted, consumers showed a growing eagerness to travel again, especially after being cooped up in their homes for a year. The travel goods sector experienced a much needed rebound in 2021 with sales numbers returning close to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019. According to a new 2021 report released by the Travel Goods Association (TGA), TGA estimates U.S. travel goods sales increased by 71.6% between 2020-2021. Sales increased among all main travel goods categories, including luggage, business cases/computer bags, travel/sports bags, handbags, personal leather goods, and backpacks.
However, the sales increases could have been even higher if not for the supply chain crisis, which featured goods stuck at major ports, skyrocketing freight rates, unreasonable and unjust shipping fees, and massive congestion at the ports. This translated to major shipping delays, with goods arriving much later at stores than anticipated, higher transportation costs, empty store shelves due to lack of inventory, and increased consumer demand for goods in short supply. These supply chain issues, which began at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, became worse in 2021 just as consumers were beginning to shop and travel again.
However, sales did increase in 2021 in comparison to 2020. TGA estimates that sales of travel goods in the United States reached $32.7 billion in 2021, up from $19.1 billion the previous year, and ever-so slightly higher than the $32.4 billion we saw in 2019, prior to the pandemic. The return to pre-pandemic sales volume illustrates the true bounce-back we saw in 2021 and how our sector overcame the unprecedented challenges it faced in 2020.
2021 State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market – In U.S. Dollars
2021 State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market – In Units
Here’s a quick look at how each of the major travel goods categories performed in 2021:
With travel resuming in 2021, luggage sales began to increase dramatically. TGA data shows a 77.9% increase in U.S. luggage sales by volume. Even better, the luggage sector saw a 108.3% increase in retail sales in U.S. dollars. While sales by volume remained 15.9% below 2019 sales, sales by value almost returned to pre-COVID levels in 2021. As a result, unit prices remained relatively unchanged between 2019-2021.
Backpacks bounced back as well, though not as substantially as luggage, with a 19.9% increase in sales by volume and a 30.9% increase in sales by value. With children going back to school in-person, there was a natural increase in demand for these types of products. Sales by volume remained a significant 26.2% below 2019 sales, with sales by value not quite as low. As a result, unit prices increased by 4.2%.
Travel/Sports Bags also increased in both sales volume and value. In volume, the sector increased by 49.3% between 2020 and 2021, which likely had to do with increased travel and a return to in-person, social sporting activities. The increase in sales value was 55.4%. Again, sales by both volume and value in 2021 returned to pre-pandemic levels, leaving unit prices virtually unchanged.
Business Cases/Computer Bags
In 2021, the Business Cases/Computer Bags sector increased by 34.4% since 2020 in terms of volume. This was consistent with the 42.2% increase we saw in sales by value in that product category. It is not surprising that this industry has grown given that consumers likely had more disposable income in 2021 than they did at the start of the pandemic and started returning to the office. Even so, sales by volume remained 24.6% below pre-pandemic levels. However, unit prices only decreased 1.7% from 2019.
The quantity of handbags sold in 2021 rose 86.4% since 2020, perhaps illustrating how consumers were eager to update their wardrobes with more in-person events to attend. “Revenge shopping” was a term widely used in 2021 to describe the phenemonon of wanting to buy more discretionary items then when shoppers were stuck at home in 2020 with nowhere to go. Additionally, retail sales in U.S. dollars increased dramatically during 2021 in the handbags sector at a high 91.5%. Again, it seems consumers were eager to accessorize with new handbags when seeing friends and family at events after a long year of quarantining. American women bought 287 million handbags in 2021, or almost 2 handbags (1.82), on average, for every female in the U.S. over the age of 5. Unit prices increased by 22.2% from 2019, which is a considerable amount compared to the minimal changes seen in other travel goods categories over the past two years.
Personal Leather Goods
In line with other travel goods categories, personal leather goods rose by 60% between 2020 and 2021. Similarly, sales by value increased by 79.8%. This large upward trend in demand and sales shows how consumers were ready to up their accessories game and invest in new everyday staples such as wallets and smartphone cases. Sales in 2021 returned to close to pre-pandemic levels, with unit prices increasing 8% over 2019.
For more information, go to TGA’s just released State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market 2005-2021 (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.