Americans are driving less and changing habits to combat high gas prices, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Amid expensive fuel costs and volatile economic conditions, how is the camping industry faring?
Since March, more than half (64%) of adult Americans have shifted their driving habits or lifestyle to offset high gas prices, according to AAA. Of the bunch, 23% are tightening their belts by creating significant changes.
From the 23rd to the 27th of last month, the association conducted 1,002 interviews among Americans who are 18 years or older. Affected by the pain at the pump, drivers are now driving less, combining errands, and reducing shopping or dining out, results suggest.
This also bleeds over future travel plans.
With high gas prices drilling holes in travelers’ pockets, many Americans have chosen to hold off their getaway this year, the organization noted in a press release.
For the camping industry, the numbers are also showing, but not because of high gas prices.
In its July research report, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) revealed that 12% of campers canceled some of their trips. While gas prices fell as a reason for not camping (only fourth now), campers are still not invincible to the threats of economic uncertainties. One of the top causes for not camping noted in the report is financial reasons. Other top reasons are difficulty finding a site and not having vacation time.
Occupancy for KOA’s short-term business was also down 3.4% for the second quarter of the year versus the same period last year, while long-term occupancy fell 3.3%, the company reported.
Even so, business is still good for the company as figures, for the most part, increased in the second quarter.
Furthermore, most will still go camping this month, but with adjustments.
KOA’s data showed that 77% of camping households adjusted their plans to camp. Measures that campers are taking to combat inflation include taking trips closer to where they live, taking fewer camping trips, or staying in locations for extended periods.
Looking on the bright side, Americans who are eager to travel are turning to camping as a cheaper travel alternative.
Reflective of AAA’s report about Americans shifting some habits to combat high gas prices, KOA’s July report revealed that 35% of respondents said they have or plan to replace another vacation option with a camping trip this year.
“Travelers have multiple factors impacting travel decisions, whether economic or the instability of air travel,” Whitney Scott, chief marketing officer of KOA, said in a recent press release. “Knowing this, we continue to innovate our offerings to attract that business and provide superior outdoor experiences.”
The resilience of the campground industry has remained evident throughout the pandemic, even raising the bar higher, KOA President and CEO Toby O’Rourke mentioned in the company’s second-quarter business report.
“The surge of interest in camping the past couple of years has reset our forecasts and established a new bar well ahead of pre-pandemic numbers that we will benchmark and plan against going forward,” she said.
Camping will always be part of the lifestyle, being ingrained in America’s diverse culture for generations now. As it remains an affordable form of travel, industry leaders such as KOA remain optimistic that camping will continue to be popular even during volatile economic times.
In its Monthly Research Report – July Edition, the camping industry giant said it forecasts 15.93 million households will camp this month.