the thriving hiking business

The crowd crowds at the Vieux Campeur in Paris. Since June, the salespeople in the hiking shoe store have struggled to respond to requests for sizes, advice on grip, shank and stone guards. “If it’s hell here, we imagine the world there will be on the trails this summer”, worries a client. It’s not false. Because the number of hikers continues to grow. Nearly 18 million French people say they engage in this activity. The Covid-19 epidemic has amplified the phenomenon.

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Since the lifting of the first containment measures in May 2020, footpaths have skyrocketed, recognizes the French Federation of Hiking (FFRandonnée). Its topoguides, works devoted to marked paths, which include IGN maps and route descriptions, saw their online sales increase by 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. In addition, the audience of the FFRandonnée sites, which list walks , advice and information for each department, more than doubled in June 2020.

At the end of May, Decathlon’s net income reached 163 million euros, compared to 141 million in 2019, for a turnover of 3.5 billion euros

“The desire for the outdoors has won over the French for a tour of Lake Annecy by bike, a walk in the forest or a great mountain race”, analysis Alexandre Desprez, sales manager in Central Europe for Merrell, an American brand of walking shoes. Because, in 2020, those who fled the beach crowds « have chosen the mountain as a refuge ”, To escape « to any promiscuity “, notes Thomas Rouault, co-founder of the Snowleader brand, distributor of sports equipment.

And it is likely that the influx will break records again this summer, the health measures which limited the accommodation capacity of the 120 French shelters to 30% having been lifted. Therefore, dormitories and rooms managed by the French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs should be taken by storm. Unless the outbreak of the Delta variant jeopardizes the season.

Mountain specialists are delighted. Decathlon, the undisputed leader of the French market, has already « cleared the Covid », according to the magazine Challenges. Its sales would have increased by 37% since the beginning of 2021, after a drop of 5.5% in 2019. Although discreet, the sign of the Mulliez group confirms in World that at the end of May its net income reached 163 million euros (compared to 141 million in 2019), for a turnover of 3.5 billion euros.

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