Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Will your favorite sellers survive?

If the current shortage of guns and ammo persists, at what point do your favorite sellers of such things become an endangered species?

I ordered a small amount of ammo online yesterday from one of the few sellers that had anything close to what I wanted. Less than two hours later, I got an email saying the order had been processed. In late December, processing would have likely taken days, maybe a week.

On a visit to a gun store yesterday, the owner and his staff were discussing whether it was worth it to keep the store open six days a week under current conditions. They're simply not getting enough inbound product to cover six days of commerce.

The other chilling data point is that national or regional big box retailers don't have the clout to get inventory either. In addition to the stores I checked over the weekend, I hit another big box sporting goods store yesterday. Its rifle and handgun ammo stock was depleted to the point of just three boxes of specialty .22 LR (priced at over ten bucks for what appeared to be a box of 50) and another three boxes of .243 Winchester. At one chain location, shelf space formerly allocated to handgun ammo has been reallocated to other merchandise.

It was reported last week that gun purchase background checks dropped by ten percent in January, in part because of inventory outages. Southeastern states were especially hard hit.

Big box stores have other products to cover their bottom line. Many independent sellers of guns and ammo, both brick and mortar and online sellers, don't. For them, the exhilaration of December sales has long ago faded. Empty shelves and out of stock notices tell me they're facing hard times if supply doesn't catch up soon.

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