After a lackluster year in 2011, when the market registered a 1 percent decline, the European outdoor market was slightly up in 2012, with a 2 percent increase, and this positive trend seems to be continuing this year, according to the NPD Group. Within this rather dynamic market, where the popularity of the different activities constantly evolves, two new disciplines in particular have been emerging as real growth drivers according to the international market research company: Nordic walking and trail running.

Observing data from 34 European countries, including Russia, NPD remarks that contrary to common belief, innovation in the outdoor business does not always come from America. European figures show that Europe is very much a cradle for new trends and new activities, where less ordinary disciplines such as paragliding, trail running or kite surfing have become increasingly popular. Germany remains a prime indicator and the reference for the outdoor market in Europe. France is also performing well, increasingly driven by new outdoor activities that are easily accessible and require minimal budget or equipment.

There was virtually no market for trail running up until just ten years ago and now, it has become a real phenomenon. The European market for trail-running shoes represented a total turnover of around €300 million in 2012, with an average price per pair of €80 and an estimated public of around 3.8 million runners. In France, the market for trail-running shoes was valued at around €32 million in 2012 and is expected to grow by 12 percent in 2013. In Germany, trail-running shoes  represented last year a market valued at around €69 million, which should grow by 13 percent in 2013.

However, the migration from road running, which was particularly strong between 2010 and 2012, to trail running has slowed down in France and Germany in 2013, said NPD. In these countries, trail running is no longer stealing market share from traditional road running.

Nordic walking, namely fitness walking with specially designed poles, first practiced in Scandinavian countries in the 1970s, has become increasingly popular in the rest of Europe as well. Nordic walking shoes represented a market in Europe of around €1.2 billion in 2012, with 145.5 million pairs sold during that year. Hiking poles represented a turnover of around €100 million. In France, the retail market for hiking poles was valued at €14 million in 2012, with an estimated growth rate for 2013 of around 12 percent. In Germany, retail sales of hiking poles were €19 million in 2012, with an estimated growth for 2013 of 5 percent.

The Nordic walking market is still in its infancy but is an extremely promising one, said NPD, with very good potential for growth in the ten years to come.