2022 Winter Sales Update
On January 31st, Eastern National closed the first quarter of FY 2022. November and December were trending close to 95% of winter 2019. January was impacted by winter weather up the east coast and the spike in COVID-19 cases in some areas due to the Omicron variant. Overall, the first quarter sales were about 90% of FY 2020. We budgeted conservatively for the winter months, but we have exceeded projections by 30%.
Over 70 park stores met or exceeded sales performance from the quarter leading up to pandemic-related closures in 2020. We continue to see strong sales performance at national parks such as Mammoth Cave, Hot Springs, Indiana Dunes, Congaree, and New River Gorge. Castillo de San Marcos NM, Wright Brothers NM, Fort Pulaski NM, and Colonial NHP all performed well above 20% increases over pre-pandemic revenues. The ShopANP webstore continues steady sales performance for park enthusiasts who can’t visit parks in person, and our wholesale business shows significant increases this quarter over the past two years. Our colleagues and cooperating association customers report they are stocking up on Passport to Your National Parks ® and other Eastern National custom products to fill their park stores in anticipation of growing park visitation this spring and summer.
On January 20th, Eastern National was pleased to participate in the grand re-opening of El Portal de El Yunque Visitor Center. Previously, this forest store was a top-revenue sales outlet for Eastern National, but it has remained closed since September 2017 after sustaining significant damage to the facility during Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Following a soft opening in late December, the store is now open to the public and serving visitors daily. In its first few weeks of operation, the Eastern National store has generated $90,000 in new revenue.
During this quarter, we saw a dip in the average spend per customer. Throughout 2021, the company-wide average transactions were close to 25% over pre-pandemic levels. This winter, we saw a 5% decrease compared to last year. We are monitoring rising costs and inflation and the impact on Eastern National’s return to financial stability. We know that price increases will be necessary to offset the rising cost of materials and shipping surcharges.
We continue to monitor travel and tourism trends compared to 2019 to prepare for our peak season. Domestic travel, both car and air, are still trending 10 – 20% below pre-pandemic levels respectively, but we may begin to see an increase in international travel as restrictions are lifted. Some parks have had record visitation and have had to begin managing attendance through advanced reservations. Other parks, especially those in urban markets, continue to have lower visitation rates compared to 2019. As we look ahead, we are hopeful that Punxsutawney Phil was wrong with this year’s prediction, and that spring, and national park visitors, are coming soon to all of America’s National Parks Stores.