Some Segments Lag Even As Sales Surge
Despite the surge of sales of ammunition and self-defense firearms that began late last year and has continued until early this summer, all is not roses. Hunting rifles, sporting shotguns and target guns have been gathering dust on dealers’ shelves and inventory levels are high at manufacturers and wholesalers alike.
“There’s a pendulum that swings back and forth. In 1998 there was something like this [current sales slump of sporting guns] when we were four years into the assault weapon ban. There had been tremendously concentrated purchasing leading up to the ban of semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic pistols and high-capacity magazines,” said a longtime industry veteran of one of the major manufacturers who spoke to The Insider on condition of anonymity.
“Then you had a transition after the assault rifle ban sunsetted in 2004 with another concentrated buying scenario. Also, from 2004 to 2008, you had a pretty significant wealth effect going into the market. People felt enriched and they were buying stuff, whatever it was — guns and other things.
“The market for extremely expensive shotguns and rifles grew tremendously. But then you had the opposite effect [when the stock market crashed in October, 2008] and you had a poverty panic.”
What happened then, is that the economic downturn caused a freeze on buying discretionary firearms such as hunting rifles and sporting shotguns, but the fear factor of Obama instituting another gun ban has stimulated people to go out and buy ammunition and any sort of self-defense firearms.
“The industry has been unable to respond to this very segmented demand spike,” the industry veteran opined.
“The overall market is down about 30 percent even though ammo and [tactical] rifles are tearing up a hot streak. We could easily see a 20 to 30 percent dip in 2010.”