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Travel Goods Association Releases State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market 2000-2010: Estimates Sales of Travel Products Started to Recover in 2010

Princeton, NJ — 2010 will go down as the "Year of the Recovery" for travel goods according to a new report from the Travel Goods Association (TGA). Travel goods are defined as luggage, backpacks, travel/sports bags, business cases/computer bags, handbags, personal leather goods, and luggage locks. TGA's report estimates that sales of travel goods in 2010 returned almost to pre-recession levels, with U.S. consumers spending an estimated $18.5 billion in 2010 on travel goods, up 6.6% from 2009, but still below what consumers spent in 2008.

"Americans finally opened up their wallets again in 2010 to buy travel goods," explains Michele Marini Pittenger, TGA's President, "at least to buy the things they perceived they needed. This was especially true for many types of travel goods, as consumers finally replaced the old and worn travel goods they held on to through the recession."

"Even though consumers were ready to buy again," commented Pittenger, "they purchased much more strategically and conservatively than before the recession, by making ‘value-based' purchases only when and where they perceived a need, eschewing the purchase of so-called ‘luxury' items."

"In many cases, consumers were even willing to pay more for a good value if they believed it met their needs," continued Pittenger. "This fact confirms that U.S. travel goods firms gave American consumers exactly what they wanted, bringing consumers out to the stores and to shop online even during these uncertain economic times."

"In some cases," continued Pittenger "consumers had to pay more for what they wanted because manufacturers and retailers were forced to raise prices on many items in 2010 to reflect growing costs throughout the supply chain. Rising materials and transportation costs as well as escalating manufacturing costs led to these price increases."

"In addition to rising costs, there could be more clouds on the horizon," cautioned Pittenger. "Many of the sales made in 2010 were so-called "catch-up" sales, basically people who had deferred purchasing travel goods in 2008 and 2009 finally buying product in what was a ‘buyers market' in 2010."

Concluded Pittenger, "Going into 2011, the prospects for the U.S. travel goods market look modestly brighter than they did at this time last year. However, with increasing costs in the supply chain continuing to put pressure on prices and with many ‘catch-up' consumers out of the market again, we must approach this year very cautiously."

Here's a quick look at how TGA estimates each of the major travel goods categories performed in 2010:

With air travel slowly recovering, more luggage fees and with people just plain ready to replace old luggage they felt they had to hold on to during the recession, 2010 was a good year for luggage sales. While not returning to pre-recession levels, 2010 represented a marked improvement over 2009, with TGA estimating that unit sales of luggage grew 5.6% by volume and 22.9% by value in 2010.

Backpack sales surged in 2010, mostly on the back of a very strong back-to-school season, combined with a resurgent interest in alternative vacations in the great outdoors. Consumers, tired after two straight years of continually using last year's backpacks, flocked back to the stores during the back-to-school and holiday seasons. TGA estimates that unit sales of backpacks increased 21.4% by volume and 14.9% by value in 2010.

Travel/Sports Bags
Looking to better position their businesses as the country emerged from the recession, companies again embraced the use of "freebies," or promotional bags, in 2010. Further, many variations on the traditional duffel bag returned to popularity in 2010, helping to revive sales. TGA estimates that unit sales of travel/sports bags in 2010 grew 8.2% and dollar sales grew 11.1%.

Business Cases/Computer Bags
TGA estimates that total unit sales of business cases and computer bags in 2010 grew a modest 0.5% by volume and an impressive 17.0% by value. More importantly, with the job market stabilizing and computer sales returning to prerecession levels, consumers were again willing to pay more to get a better product. TGA estimates that the average price for business cases and computers bags rose 42.6% in 2010.

Even as the United States emerged from the recession in 2010, weary consumers, many still uncertain about the economy, decided that buying new, and/or multiple, handbags was still not a necessity. TGA estimates that unit sales of handbags in 2010 slipped 1.7% while dollar sales fell 4.8%, keeping sales well below prerecession levels. Granted, this meant that Americans still bought an astounding 248 million handbags in 2010.

Personal Leather Goods
Pent-up demand and the popular release of new types of smart phones, along with the launch of the iPad, meant a strong recovery in sales of personal leather goods in 2010, with TGA estimating unit sales up 6.5% and dollar sales up 12.4% during the period.

Luggage Locks
Thanks to airline luggage fees and TSA security screening procedures, even the economic recovery and the resurgence in air travel failed to return luggage lock sales to the positive in 2010. TGA estimates that unit sales of luggage locks in 2010 fell 17.6% and dollar sales slipped 7.8%.

For more information, go to TGA's just released State of the U.S. Travel Goods Market 2000-2010 Report (PDF format) or contact TGA at 877-TGA-1938, x-705 to learn more about the latest trends in the U.S. travel goods market.

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