2017 has been an interesting year in the firearm/outdoor sports industry. The same can be said here at Gearfire headquarters. It all started with President Trump being sworn in during SHOT Show. Then came dealer inventory panic and manufacturer’s offering deep discounts to consumers. These are just a few of the newsworthy stories in 2017.
Today, I will discuss a few of these events and look forward to 2018.
This article written by Scott Drzonsc, National Sales Manager at Gearfire.
2017 Presidential Election & Industry
2017 started off with the Inauguration of our 45th President, Donald Trump. The “fear buying” that took place prior (end of 2016) may have taken its toll on sales for some dealers in 2017.
Like any other industry, the market correction that took place in 2017 was needed. The industry became flooded with new operations and products that just didn’t belong. These operations took advantage of the past political climate that boosted firearm sales to just about anyone who had their doors open. The correction in 2017 saw the strongest operations moving forward; reinventing themselves and adapting a new progressive business model.
Those who didn’t adapt struggled in 2017, and will have to make changes in 2018 to stay afloat.
Firearm & Ammunition Sales
2017 firearm and ammunition sales were hindered by all the “fear buying” late in 2016. This led to a flat opening in Q1, which continued throughout the remainder of 2017. The biggest challenges for dealers were the excess inventory on hand, and finding new folks to enter the firearm marketplace. As 2017 continued, some changes in consumer behaviors were noted. Then there was a large uptick of consumers on Black Friday, which gives us hope for a stable 2018.
This large uptick was a record number (approx. 203,000) of background checks on Black Friday, and new consumers entering the firearm marketplace.
The ammunition market was also affected, and has seen some of the lowest pricing and discounts in some time. This is good news for Range owners.
Range operators have seen a large increase in shooting participation and new customers entering the market. The past ammo shortage in the consumer market has vanished, and popular ammo is now available on store shelves.
These reduced prices we are now seeing may come to an end. The majority of industry ammunition articles I read tell me a story. The prices of copper, lead and zinc are starting to rise, which will disrupt the current low pricing of ammo. Take advantage now.
Manufacturer, Outdoor Retailer Changes & Discounts
2017 was an unstable year on the dealer level, and was also felt by the major manufacturers & outdoor retailers.
Manufacturers slashed expectations on Wall Street due to the post-election slump, and had significant corporate firings and resignations in 2017. Notable shake-ups took place at Vista Outdoors and Smith & Wesson, just to name a few.
On the outdoor retail side, Gander Mountain filed for bankruptcy, and was then purchased at auction by Marcus Lemonis from Camping World and CNBC’s show “The Profit.” We also had the mega-merger of Cabela’s and Bass Pro-shops. The outdoor retail space had significant consolidation in 2017.
Manufacturer discounts were a big discussion this year in our industry. We saw massive discounts and specials being offered to consumers. These discounts were good for the consumer or new shooter getting into the market, but were not received well from dealers. The value of the dealers’ inventory was cut/diminished due to the massive discounts, and had an interesting effect to the market. Consumers were offered discounts like the one below.
2017 was an exciting year for Gearfire, as we continue to improve and grow our network of dealers. We started the year off with a very successful SHOT Show.
We had the opportunity to meet many of our loyal Gearfire network dealers, as well as meet with industry leaders and prospective dealers.
In 2017, our network of dealers noticed:
- the improved power of Gearfire.
- improved SEO results.
- stronger distributor relationships.
- improved assembly order functionality.
- mobile optimization
- the most intuitive website search function in our industry.
2018 Crystal Ball
We have a very optimistic outlook for our dealers (and Gearfire) in 2018. We have listened to our dealers’ suggestions and feedback, and have already started working on further improvements and services to implement later this year.
Gearfire will be making some exciting announcements prior to SHOT Show 2018, and we look forward to delivering the best eCommerce platform in the industry.
We are dedicated to you, the dealer, and making 2018 the best year to date!
If you are attending any of the upcoming January shows, stop by our booth and say hello. We love meeting you, the experts in our industry.
Gearfire wishes you the very best in 2018. We appreciate you being part of the largest outdoor eCommerce network, and will do everything we can to make it a successful 2018. As always, comments and feedback are always appreciated.