Outdoor travel along with the sports and recreation sector saw a boost this summer as Albertans flocked to golf courses and waterways amid the COVID-19 pandemic, new data shows.

Payment processing technology company Moneris says spend data from domestic card use showed a 27 per cent increase in volume at Alberta’s golf courses compared to last August. Boat dealerships in the province also saw about a 15 per cent increase over the same time.

“According to our data, while overall domestic spending volume across the country was down 30.86 per cent this August, many merchants actually sold more this summer than last in key markets,” Youjin Choi wrote in an email statement on behalf of Moneris.

“Canadian retailers in the outdoor travel and sports and recreation sectors saw a notable boost in spending thanks to Canadians getting outdoors and travelling closer to home.”

Steven Lazowski, owner and sales manager of Recreational Power Sports, was not surprised to hear sales were up in the province.

His company has sold twice or three-times as many boats as the year before. He says he’s told customers they shouldn’t delay if they see a boat they like as they keep selling out, and he’s met with surprise.

“(I tell them) everybody is doing exactly what you’re doing, they’re coming to buy a boat,” he says.

“The way that March and April started, I always like to say it’s like Chicken Little: the sky is falling. Then, the floodgates opened late April and May, and it just hadn’t stopped.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Lazowski said they had to lay off most of their staff temporarily for two to three weeks, but a few weeks later they hired everyone back, plus a few more.

He said some of the manufacturers are backed up because they’re unable to get all the parts they need.

A lot of customers were interested in pontoon boats, which are good for water sports, relaxing, and fishing, he said.

Across Canada, there were just over 20 per cent higher volumes on golf courses, more than 21 per cent more volume at bicycle shops and services, and 51 per cent more at swimming pools and related services. Boat rentals and leases also went up by 40 per cent in B.C. and in Ontario.

Source: Edmonton Journal