Southwick Associates—a market research and economics firm specializing in the outdoor recreation markets for more than 30 years—released its 2023 outlook for the firearm industry shortly after Black Friday. Skyrocketing interest rates, inflation and the risk of some another variable on the horizon, however, makes any prediction risky.
“The factors driving sales are certainly more numerous and complex than we’ve seen before,” said Nancy Bacon, vice president at Southwick Associates. “However, looking at past years, current conditions remain reasonable for the 2023 firearms and accessories market. Different areas of the trade will do better than others, however, given inventory build-ups and interest rate impacts.”
The report claimed, perhaps prematurely, that a reduction in political rhetoric aimed at the Second Amendment will lead to leveled gun sales volume in 2023. It notes, “…a better balance in Congress will reduce consumer concerns about future sales restrictions.”
President Joe Biden apparently didn’t get the memo. On Thanksgiving Day, he said, “The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick,” according to Associated Press. “I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.” On Black Friday—the very next day—the FBI handled 192,749 background checks; a 2.8 percent increase compared to the same 24-hour period in 2021. Biden reiterated the same threat on Dec. 7.
Southwick’s report predicts the increase in gun and ammunition inventory at retailers will reduce scarcity-driven purchases next year. The increased availability will be a welcome change, along with the anticipated continuation of the discount, rebate and incentive trend that hit the market in mid-2022.
“…[W]e expect 2023’s retail firearms market to ease back to 2017 levels,” the report predicts. “2017’s sales were above 2019’s volumes and one of the trade’s best years. Ammunition demand will also decline slightly, but likely not as much as firearm sales.”