Nicholas Molinari Nicholas Molinari
Associate Manager, Tax and Economic Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Rachel Ledbetter Rachel Ledbetter
Senior Manager, Communications and Strategy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


July 01, 2024


As summer arrives, Americans kick back and enjoy time with friends and family. At the same time, businesses and the people who power them, large and small, across the United States prepare for an economic season that promises more than warm weather and relaxation.

U.S. businesses are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping this summer’s experiences, from backyard barbecues to outdoor adventures. These businesses are working around the clock to provide goods and services to create summer memories that last a lifetime.

Backyard Barbecues: The Heartbeat of American Summer

From block parties to pool parties, backyard barbecues are without a doubt an American summer staple, and in 2024, they're more than just a relaxing summertime activity—grilling is an economic industry unto itself.

The barbecue grill market is red hot, with expected growth driven by innovations in technology and design. Innovative U.S. technology and consumer product companies gear Americans with affordable options and even “smart” grills equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities, offering a tech-savvy twist to traditional grilling.

The demand for grills and related accessories, from smokers to eco-friendly charcoal, versatility, and innovation, is fueling a robust retail sector.

Fresh Food Abound: Grocery Stores and the Agricultural Industry Fuel 2024’s Barbecues

At the heart of summer barbeques are the grocery stores and food producers that make these gatherings possible.

Without grocers and farmers throughout the United States, backyard barbecues would not be nearly as delicious. From fresh produce to premium cuts of meat, the aisles of America's grocers are stocked with everything needed for a memorable cookout.

Beyond their role in feeding families, grocery stores and food producers are integral to the economic and social fabric of their communities, including hosting health clinics and contributing to food banks to help those in need.

  • Grocery stores and food producers supply everything for picnics from fresh produce to premium meats. The food and agriculture sector directly supports nearly 24 million jobs and contributes to more than $9.6 trillion of the country’s economic activity. 

Additionally, the Food Industry Association (FMI) tells the Chamber the rise in demand for prepared meals has seen a significant boost. Vast numbers of retailers now feature value-added produce—pre-cut and ready-to-use vegetables and fruits—alongside grab-and-go items like barbecue wings, prepared salads, and heat-and-eat meals that makeup summer barbeque spreads.

When it comes to the spread at summer cookouts, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reports that nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%), especially parents, feel that a summertime cookout is not complete without hot dogs. Additionally, potato salad (61%), watermelon (60%), and beer (53%) are key components of a summertime cookout.

Americans are divided along mostly regional lines when it comes to preferred hot dog toppings and styles, but 75% agree that the best way to cook a hot dog is on the grill.

  • What do Americans most disagree about when it comes to summer cookouts? More than half (57%) report that a hot dog is not a sandwich.

As Americans fire up their grills this summer, grocers and agricultural producers provide the ingredients, convenience, and community support that make summer cookouts possible.  

Boating and Marine Recreation: Anchors and Commerce Aweigh 

The boating and marine manufacturing industries are gearing up for a busy summer as Americans hit the water for recreation and relaxation.

  • According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the annual national economic impact of recreational boating increased 36% from $170 billion in 2018 to $230 billion in 2023, and the industry saw a 14% increase in jobs supported, from 691,000 in 2018 up to more than 812,000 in 2023.

From sleek speedboats for adventure-seekers and soothing sailboats for those looking to relax, U.S.-based marine manufacturers offer an ocean of opportunity for watercraft ownership, with NMMA reporting that 61% of boat owners in the United States have an annual household income of $75,000 or less.

This industry provides a huge upswell of economic benefits for communities across the country. Of the twelve million registered boats in America, 95% of boats sold in the U.S. were made in the U.S. with 93% of U.S. boat manufacturers being small businesses – contributing heavily to state and local economies.

  • Furthermore, NMMA reports that the U.S. marine and boating industry generates $26.9 billion in annual tax revenue, with $16.3 billion contributing to federal tax revenue.

Marinas, rental services, and marine maintenance providers support this surge in boating enthusiasm. Coastal towns and lakeside communities are bustling with activity, as businesses cater to both seasonal sailors and fishermen to weekend warriors in search of maritime fun. The infrastructure supporting boating activities (dock facilities, fuel stations, and marine repair shops) provides a seasonal summer boost to local economies while also creating jobs in local communities. 

Embracing the Spirit of Summer Through Business

As the summer of 2024 begins, it’s clear that this vibrant season is a dynamic period of economic activity and opportunity. U.S. businesses are at the heart of this vibrancy, powering the backyard barbecues, boating adventures, and general summer fun that define this holiday season.

Fire up the grill, set sail, and enjoy all fun in the sun—all while appreciating the U.S. businesses that help bring about summertime fun.  

About the authors

Nicholas Molinari

Nicholas Molinari

Nicholas Molinari is an associate manager for the Tax and Economic policy teams at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Rachel Ledbetter

Rachel Ledbetter

Rachel Ledbetter is a senior manager for communications and strategy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Read more