Fear & Loading: Shooting Gear Sales Grow 11 Percent

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posted on June 7, 2019
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Despite the much-publicized “new norm” in firearm sales, spending in the overall shooting and hunting sports market grew by 11 percent in 2018, according to a new report from Southwick Associates. The increase drove overall industry retail sales to a total of $21.3 billion for the year.

“Much of the sales increases can be attributed to consumers high-grading their purchases versus actual unit increases,” reports Nancy Bacon, vice president at Southwick Associates. “For the categories tracked, the average sale increased 20 percent in 2018 versus the previous year. Total units were down seven percent, driven primarily by decreases in the ammunition, blackpowder and reloading categories.”

Despite softness in the overall firearms categories led by declines in modern sporting rifles, total dollar sales of traditional rifles and shotguns each increased despite slight drops in volume of sales. The largest growth rates were seen in the firearm parts, optics, shooting accessories and hunting equipment categories, each with double-digit increases as measured in retail dollars. 

According to Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, “The data show what we’ve been suspecting—the hunting and shooting markets are performing better than recent media coverage indicates. Consumers are not as concerned about firearm restrictions and have shifted towards accessorizing previous years’ purchases and catching up on delayed equipment purchases. The overall market is still strong.”

Results of the study come on the heels of the decline in gun-purchase-related NICS checks performedin April and March. Figures for the month of May are not yet available at press time. The Southwick Associates report indicates even if the raw or adjusted figures indicate lower sales, each firearm being purchased is more expensive on average—and aftermarket products are in more demand—good news for the industry, and Second Amendment.  

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