Evan English charges his Smith & Wesson MP 9 Shield 9mm at the firing range. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

As gun sales slump, Black Friday offers day of redemption

Black Friday has traditionally been a good day for gun sale retailers, but this year will be better for consumers looking for cheap deals.

As the debate on how to regulate firearms heats up again following two recent deadly mass shootings in Texas and Las Vegas, firearms makers and outdoor retailers are looking toward Black Friday as a day of redemption against a continued sales slump.

Gun makers and retailers have increased their marketing efforts this year to sell firearms at special sales rates on Black Friday and the holiday season. Firearms makers are pulling out all the stops to get rid of an excess of inventory built up after fears that a Democrat in the presidential office would push tighter gun control.

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During the presidential campaign, retailers stocked up on firearms — anticipating increased gun sales if Hillary Clinton won. Instead, they saw sales slump when President Trump won since it seems unlikely that gun control laws would be tightened under a Republican president.

Background checks conducted through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which Wall Street analysts consider to be a good proxy for gun sales, slumped 17 percent in October. That continued a string of double-digit declines in recent months, according to media reports.

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Gun and ammunition stores brought in $8.6 billion in revenue in 2016 and employs about 79,764, according to research from IBISWorld.

Both gun makers and the retailers that sell them are trying to tout hot deals this season. Smith & Wesson, one of the top firearms makers in the U.S., is offering a winter deal valid from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. Customers can buy any new M&P Bodyguard 380 Pistol or any new Smith & Wesson Revolver and receive a $50 Smith & Wesson prepaid Mastercard.

The firearms industry has seen upheaval on the retail side. For local gun shop owners, Black Friday is a chance to bring in loyal customers amid a “gun sale recession.” David Becker, owner of The Miami Armory, said the political environment has impacted sales this year compared to the bump received during the presidential election.

“If you’re a smaller gun shop, you had to struggle through the summer months. It was brutal for the first time in a long time,” he said.

The store will open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Black Friday, and customers will receive a raffle ticket for every $150 they spend. A blind raffle will be drawn for a free firearm, Becker said. The store is also offering various deals on accessories and firearms, as much as 30 percent off.

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Becker said firearm makers are also luring customers back in by releasing new models of firearms more frequently to entice gun enthusiasts. He said handguns are still selling, and that the larger firearms like semi-automatic shotguns have taken more hits in sales.

While competing with retailers like Field & Stream and Cabela’s, Becker said independent gun retailers offer an expertise and attention to detail that customers just can’t find anywhere else.

Evan English, president, Olde English Outfitters, loads a magazine for a 9mm handgun at the firing range. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

“What you’re getting is years of firearm experience and customer service,” he said.

Earlier this year, Cabela’s was acquired by Bass Pro Shops — both two of the largest gun retailers in the U.S. Cabela’s will give away one free gun and one free rifle at its store located at 5500 Cornerstone Blvd. in Centerville. 

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Bass Pro Shops is also featuring a kick-off sale for the holiday season and free shipping for firearms online to local Bass Pro Shops. The retailer has featured deals on gun safes, ammo, rifle scopes, a semi-auto shotgun and a laser rangefinder.

Cabela’s and other retailers are also using online shopping as another tactic to increase gun sales. The retailer offers special online deals for firearms, and customers can pick up their order at the nearest store location.

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