Three Highlights From NSSF’s 2017 Firearms Retail Survey Report

By Jade Moldae

NSSF recently released its data-rich Firearms Retailer Survey Report, the 2017 Edition, which encompasses trend data from 2008–2016. This ninth annual report includes responses from hundreds of firearms retailers nationwide, ranging from single proprietors to expansive, multi-million dollar establishments. Topics presented in this report include: insights on products sold, figures illustrating sales margins and net profit, the impact of advertising and online marketing, inventory updates and more. Here are three things that stood out to us in this comprehensive report:

1. Consumer Trends

The 2017 Edition of the NSSF Firearms Retailer Survey Report uncovered several encouraging takeaways in the sphere of new customer growth. Perhaps most impactful, 69.5 percent of reporting retailers noticed an increase in female customers in 2016 over 2015 (while only 2.3 percent noted a decrease). On average, 70.3 percent of respondents have experienced elevated year-to-year traffic from women customers since 2008. Sales credited to women customers increased to their highest reported levels in 2016, with dealers attributing 22.6 percent of revenue to this growing demographic.

Reporting retailers maintained 24 percent of all customers were first-time gun buyers in 2016. What was their preferred first purchase? Semi-auto handguns, MSRs and revolvers led the way. Semi-auto handguns were also women’s preferred firearm purchase, the survey revealed. Dealers reported a modest increase in Hispanic and black customers over 2015, while noting a decrease in Asian customers.

2. Inventory Adjustments

Inventory management represents a crucial segment of a dealer’s bottom line, which the results from the 2017 survey report confirmed. For the third year running, responding dealers said product availability represented the issue that had the greatest negative impact on their businesses (59.1%). (Online competition was a close second, increasing by nearly 20 percent from 2015 to being listed by 58.3 percent of surveyed dealers.)

The percentage change in annual inventory of firearms and ammunition from 2015 to 2016 revealed some telling insights. In 2016, a significant number of reporting dealers answered their annual inventory of firearms and ammunition hadn’t changed from 2015 — 37.1 and 30.1 percent, respectively. This is in stark contrast to 2015, as over a third of dealers in both categories said their inventory levels were down compared to the previous year. Another statistic: 47.6 percent of surveyed dealers said their inventory of firearms increased from 2015 to 2016, while 43.4 percent said their ammunition inventory was up over the same period.

3. Embracing Online?

Since 2008, there has been a gradual shift of retailers who have embraced today’s digital age by developing the online component of their businesses. Nearly 75 percent of respondents (74.8%) shared they have a website for their business, the highest in the survey’s nine-year history. However, only 53.2 percent of respondents reported selling hunting- and shooting-related products online. For those who have a website and online store, 46.2 percent experienced an increase in online sales — which represented 24.1 percent of total sales revenues in 2016. Interestingly, 47.5 percent of those surveyed said their future business would not include selling products online. This is an improvement, however, as nearly 60 percent of respondents did not have plans to develop an online business in 2015.

The information for this report was collected through an online survey of retailers, conducted in March 2017. NSSF members can download a PDF of the 2017 Edition NSSF Firearms Retailer Survey Report for $120, while voting members have immediate free access. Non-members can order the report as well, for $1,200.


NASGW Donates To CSF

The National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) has donated $25,000 to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) to support industry advocacy efforts to protect sportsmen’s rights.

“NASGW’s continued support allows CSF to provide a link between the sportsmen’s community and policy makers. While maintaining close relationships with the sportsmen’s community, CSF works with federal and state pro-sportsman legislators to ensure hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping remains a priority in the halls of government,” said CSF President Jeff Crane.

“The National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers is proud to support the mission of CSF to work with Congress, governors and state legislatures to protect and advance the shooting sports industries,” said NASGW Chairman Brad Burney.


Vista Outdoor Partners With BSA

Vista Outdoor Inc. has entered into a wide-ranging partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Vista Outdoor is now the official conservation sponsor of the Scouts, while its brands Federal Premium, CCI, Savage, Gold Tip, CamelBak and Bell have become official partners with the Scouts for Shooting Sports, Archery, Hydration and Wheeled Safety.

“Vista Outdoor’s mission is to bring the world outside. This historic partnership will help us achieve our mission, and support over 2 million Scouts in their ability to enjoy the outdoors and be responsible citizens. Many of our employees and their children are Scouts, and we understand the significant impact this organization makes in young people’s lives,” said Ryan Bronson, Vista Outdoor’s director of conservation.

“Scouting takes young people on adventures and lessons of character and leadership in the most remarkable classroom imaginable — the outdoors. We are honored to partner with Vista Outdoor, an organization that shares our respect for the outdoors and long-lasting commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Brad Farmer, assistant chief scout executive leading the office of development for the BSA.

As the official conservation sponsor, Vista Outdoor was the presenting sponsor of the “Conservation Trail” at this year’s 2017 National Jamboree. The company launched a “Conservation Counts” campaign last year to better communicate how even the smallest effort can make a substantial difference when it comes to being a responsible steward of the environment.

“Conservation is a core value for Vista Outdoor. The Boy Scouts’ Outdoor Creed aligns perfectly with our company’s culture of responsibility,” Bronson added.


Crosman Announces Acquisitions, New CEO

Crosman Corp. has been acquired by Compass Diversified Holdings (CODI), an owner of leading middle-market businesses. The sale was completed June 2. Crosman, designer, manufacturer and marketer of airguns, archery products, optics and related accessories, is headquartered in East Bloomfield, N.Y. The company’s product portfolio includes the Crosman, Benjamin and CenterPoint brands.
Crosman’s management team invested in the transaction alongside CODI, which previously owned a majority stake in Crosman and divested the business in 2007.

“We are excited to draw on our past ownership of Crosman and deep experience with outdoor-branded consumer product companies, and look forward to working with the company’s strong management team to solidify Crosman’s leading position in airguns, and further penetrate the archery market,” said Alan Offenberg, CEO of CODI. CODI also owns and manages 5.11 Tactical and Liberty Safe.

“We are very pleased to have been acquired by Compass Diversified Holdings,” said newly appointed Crosman CEO Robert Beckwith, the company’s former CFO. “Compass’ strong management team and dedication to growth make them the perfect partner to allow us to invest in the business to take it to the next level.”

July 20, Crosman announced it had acquired the commercial business of LaserMax Inc., global provider of hardened and miniaturized laser systems for home defense, personal protection and training use.

LaserMax’s commercial business provides laser sighting solutions and tactical lights to firearms OEM and retail channels. The company has developed significant intellectual property in laser technology.

“LaserMax is well-known for its innovative laser products in the shooting sports accessory market, and the cross-selling synergies with Crosman’s airgun and archery products are clear and highly attractive. We are excited to be able to strengthen our product line for outdoor enthusiasts by adding this iconic brand to the Crosman portfolio,” Beckwith said.


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