2017: It’s a Tough Economy for the Gun & Hunting Industry Right Now

2017 tough ecnomyThe health care chaos last week on Capitol Hill notwithstanding, things have been looking pretty good since President Trump’s election last November. The stock market is up and consumer confidence is high as the President reduces burdensome regulations on business and moves to act on tax reform this summer.

But ironically the election of our first pro-gun president in 8 years has slowed the sale of firearms and softened the overall shooting/hunting market. In recent years, with anti-gun Barack Obama at the helm and with the prospect of Hillary looming for another 8 years, law-abiding and freedom–loving Americans had a deep and well-founded concern that their gun rights were in serious jeopardy, and so we purchased guns and hoarded ammunition at a record pace.

But now, with President Trump in the White House and our Second Amendment rights secure for now, firearms sales have slowed and as a consequence cast a pale over the entire industry.

Colt, Savage, Remington and Federal Premium recently announced that they are constricting business and laying off employees, and many industry experts predict that other manufacturers will follow suit.

The record sales and profits from firearms and especially ammunition of the last 5 years carried over into the general outdoor and hunting market, and helped to account for decent to good sales. For example, a guy walked into a Cabela’s store to buy 3 boxes of ammo, and he picked up a new camo jacket and some other stuff on the way to the register. But many of those impulse buys have dried up and dried up fast.

In addition to declining gun/ammo sales is the overall retail industry’s struggles of 2017 and beyond. Namely, how do retailers with heavy investment in brick-and-mortar survive and grow in the Amazon world? You likely have empty storefronts in your hometown that thrived just 5 short years ago.

You might have heard that Gander Mountain recently declared bankruptcy, and as a part of that will close 32 of 162 retail stores in 11 different states. Click to see if a GM store near you is on the list to be shuttered.

Word is that Bass Pro Shops’ $4.5 billion deal to buy Cabela’s could be in jeopardy as federal regulators have requested more information from both parties. But most financial experts predict that the merger will still be approved and completed, most likely later this fall.

The bowhunting industry is not immune. The Outdoor Wire spoke with industry experts who pointed to significant problems facing the archery business and the considerable drop-off in bow and gear sales. One big reason—the trend of manufacturers toward high-end bows that cost $1,000 to $1,500. Not all hard-working hunters can fork out a good chunk of a mortgage payment for a new bow, so fewer bows are sold each year, and people are upgrading less and keeping their bows for 4 or 5 years.

While the gun/bow/hunting/outdoor industry is facing uncertain and tough economic times, there is light on the horizon. If President Trump can get our dysfunctional Congress to work together for once and approve meaningful tax reform for corporations and individuals alike this summer, and retroactive to January 1, 2017, the industry (and all retail) will receive an immediate boost. History shows that every time people get even a little more money in their pockets, they will spend some of it on their passions. There are no more passionate Americans than deer hunters. Give us back some more of our money and we’ll buy a new rifle or bow or trail camera or camo, just in time for the 2017-18 season.

As for the manufacturers, you will continue to see some constriction and shifting business strategies in the short term, but that can be a good thing. Smart business leaders step back, analyze changing market trends and then build and market products that people will buy in 2018, in this case quality and affordable guns and bows.

For retailers large and small, the future is inescapable and simple. We all still love to go to a Cabela’s,  Bass Pro or Gander store, and we love our local gun shop. We’ll still buy at those stores, but if a company is not heavily online and Mobile, they’re out of business or soon will be.

What about you? Are you spending less on gear? Buying more online? Will you purchase a new gun this year? Does a new bow cost too much?

12 thoughts on “2017: It’s a Tough Economy for the Gun & Hunting Industry Right Now

  1. The gun manufacturing and ammo companies gouged us for over the last 8 years with inflated prices and damm few ammo deals even shortages now “they” are having difficulties…tsk what a shame! Ex. an AR15 5.56 that is now being offered new on Gunbroker for $499 was selling a year ago for $1800.00 tell me that was not inflated to their distributors.
    I just wrote a check for $2672 to pay for 1 month’s health insurance for my wife and I on a policy with $12,500 deductible, $32,000+ a year for medical insurance in premiums , yes that does cut into my fun money.
    Right now I am pissed at every politican while they all (both parties) play games I am on the hook.

  2. While all the right wingers have stopped buying guns the middle of the roaders better start. All of our rights could be eroded very soon by this crazy pants president. I seldom agree with you big daddy, but I’m with you on this one.

  3. If the Republicans continue along the path they did last week with healthcare reform, they won’t get much done over the next two years and the Democrats may very well end up picking up seats.

    As far as the gun dealers. That’s business. They took a chance on stocking up and now the demand is lower than they anticipated.

    In the end, I’m sure it will work out…

  4. BD,

    I can’t imagine paying for healthcare what you are right now. The only upside I can see is that @ least you can afford it as there are a whole lot of people in this country who don’t even make 32k a year….

    • Like me, Jim. I live on SS and pay about $400 a month for health care. It’s worth it, however, since we’ve had catastrophic medical bills in the last few years. And, no, I don’t have Obamacare.

  5. Can I afford it? Better question how can I afford not to? That $32,000 is not super plan either with $12500 deducts for the two of us and only pays 80% of most items with 50% of generic drugs. The democrats would say “you can afford that with your investments and pension plus even a little more for someone who has a low income” me I say that is $42,500 before I get anything out of it. I worked hard all my life saved my money ask for no help nor got any, paid my own way through college by working while I was married with a baby pushed myself to excel at my career so I could retire early. Now I get the shaft so I can support someone without the will to push themselves to excel even prosper a bit. Bitter darn right I am bitter, I am real close to signing everything over to my grown children and let the Gov’t support me for a change!

    • I would be shocked if you didn’t know what your insurance was going to cost before you decided to retire early. Has it gone up? I’m sure it has, just like mine does every single year.

      Is that fair? Of course not, but in the end you are able to pay the bill and IMO the only thing worse than being ill, is being ill without the financial wherewithal to get reasonable medical care.

      As far as you “signing everything over”….you aren’t likely to do that as I have a feeling that you’ve always met your responsibilities and it would eat @ you to not do so now.

      Just like it would me…..

  6. When I retired my rate was $790 or the two of us. When Obama and his democrat buddies rammed thru his ACA to give illegals free medical insurance it pushed up yearly.
    In the each year since then I have had my provider stop offering insurance policies like mine forcing me back into the market searching for a new provider. Today only 1 provider exisits no other options.
    I recall Obama lying about putting $2500 per year back in my pocket also “if you like your insurance you can keep it and your doctor”
    ACA/Obama is great if you have nothing and are sucking the tit of others!

  7. I understand what you are saying. My family’s rates keep going up as well. It sucks…
    But if you are waiting on the Republicans to fix it, I have a feeling you, me (and everyone else) are going to be waiting a long time….

  8. I’ve been shooting the same bow for about 10 years now, I got no problems with that because it shoots just fine. It has the parallel limb technology and until they come up with something new that really makes a difference, I’ll be happy. I can afford a new bow quit easily, but why, so I can say I have the newest gismo to make my friends jealous. I grew up poor, so I will never just buy something for no good reason. You make a good point Mike, at $1500.00 for a new bow and accessories, I would say the pricing has gotten way out of hand. Here is another point, MAYBE THE PRICE OF .22 AMMO WILL FINALLY GET BACK CLOSE TO WHERE IT USE TO BE.

  9. As far as gear goes….

    I’m @ the point in life that while I can afford more, I tend to buy less than I used to. The latest, greatest (insert item here) doesn’t hold the appeal for me that it might have in my younger days.

    In other words….why replace what still works just fine?

  10. One thing I forgot to mention….

    If I do buy something new, I normally do so after the season when it’s on clearance. It’s amazing the deals you can get that time of year….

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