The state of the gun markets - SW WA / Vancouver and beyond - Post COVID run, looking forward

Sporting Systems

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The firearms industry is a pretty cyclical retail market, with a pretty consistent baseline of activity. In a normal year, after tax season ends, May and June start to see a general slowdown as people spend money and head off on summer vacations, kids are out of school so the gun spending slows. July, you can throw a cat through a gunshop and not hit anyone. August rolls around and an uptick in Hunting rifles and optics breathes a little life back in to summer doldrums. September rolls around and spending start to ramp back up for personal purchases and that rolls into the holiday gift season. October through Dember are a ramp up into the next tax season. Then the cycle repeats itself. Any mass shooting, any political winds blowing and there's a rush for a short period of time. What's different in 2020? Alot. An awful lot.

Lets start 2020 with a roaring economy, unparalleled unemployment numbers, wages rising. The first quarter was strong, and then...China virus rolled around. Mid march, the market demand curve shifted, rather it was blown away. March and April were off the hook. You could sell every ugly gun in the store and you couldn't replacement it. In 2 days of March, the national wholesale inventory of firearms and ammunition pretty much evaporated. Today, many of those wholesalers are still catching up on orders placed over a month ago (for in stock items, not backorders). Shipments from foreign counties were significantly delayed, Benelli (Italy) is just now starting to ship low numbers of their defensive guns. Subcomponents coming out of Asia halted before most of us even realized it, so all the accessories have dried up too. Want Glock 19 April 1, good luck...they were ALL gone. Glock inventories are just now starting to recover. Other domestic manufacturers have been either shut down completely, or are running on such low staff levels, that shipping has been seriously slowed...guns, ammo, all of it is off.

Inside tricks to getting through this on our side, spend years developing your supplier relationships. When things get hard to find, a good rep will find them and get them allocated to your shop. Pay for everything up front, don't use their line of credit...companies like to get paid and you'll always get the goods before others do. There are times where using program terms are OK, but when it's loco, pay upfront...you'll get the goods. Work harder to refill your shelves than you do to empty them, if you have products...you can sell them. This is much harder than it sounds, but it will pay off when the market goers haywire. We started March with about 200 Glocks in inventory. We finished March with about 40 (the large frame ones and some Blue Label), we're just now seeing good orders being filled on Glock.

Ammunition is catching back up, but this too, is hard work. We're loaded with the popular calibers today, but literally, we're still selling about a pallet a day and receiving the same. Not easy to keep it flowing...but with work, you will get it. Ammo prices have gone up 7-10% this year, those were mostly pre announced escalations in January and we're feeling it now. Expect those to remain, its not gouging but rather raw material increases, labor cost increases, regulatory increases, you name it...the escalation was due. We haven't changed our margin on ANY product during this time, in fact we lowered it on the big SKUs and are pushing higher volumes and efficiencies instead.

What's the rest of the year look like...this is where things are going to get strange.

In the current COVID crisis, the market is running at a higher level still, the baseline "normal demand" has just jumped. Inject the rioting and we've already seen a big jump in new buyers inquiries. If the mystery bug COVID wasn't hyped enough by the media and politicians, to scare people into buying some self protection, roving gangs of looters trashing our cities and police departments retreating from the urban rioters certainly has. The lines at gun shops will be growing again.

Lets just go ahead and pour some more fuel on the fire. We're rapidly approaching a general election, and those ALWAYS send the firearms industry into a tizzy. What will be different about this election season? The COVID demand shift, racial tensions, and urban violence will drive the "need" to stock up and the legitimate fear that "WHAT IF" Biden actually wins (and who his VP choice is especially).

Now the ugliest part of my predictions. The mass shootings have been quiet, schools and crowds are shut down. The violence going into year end is going to rise dramatically. Economic and financial pressures of the unemployed, the frustration of the citizens with the continued COVID restrictions, and the racial tensions are brewing up a perfect storm. The violent release is coming, we just don't know where and when, but it will be messy countrywide.

My summation, supplies are still lean now but recovering. The fear in the public is very real. The market cannot respond fast enough to satisfy any more runs on the stores. The rest of this year is going to be a challenge for everyone in the industry, and a serious challenge for all firearm owners, new and old. Ammo, firearms and accessories are going to be tight into 2021.
 
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In other words... if you find something you want, just buy it.

Don't wait expecting panic buyers to sell off their regrets for cheap. And it doesn't matter if Trump wins in November. All those commiefornians and new york dirt bags have overrun the Northwest and brought their bull crap with them. Won't be long until we start seeing them pass the same crap here form where they came from.

Better to have something now, even if you have to pay a little more for it, than not be able to get it later at all. If you wait for that deal, you might be waiting from something that never comes.
 

GWS

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Gonna be a crazy fall this year.
With Biden raving about taking ALL of our semi auto rifles (aka Assault weapons:rolleyes:) There's going to be a run on guns and ammo this October that will make this past spring look tame.
Buy 'em now, folks!
(You should have bought them last year!!)
 

Dungannon

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  • Outdoor Cleanup - 2016
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There's a shotgun I need, but everything else falls into the "I'd like that" camp. Ammo and especially reloading supplies have been my priority since the beginning of the year.
 

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