Holiday 2021 Readiness for Your Gun Store

If you haven’t started your holiday planning yet, you’re already behind. Here’s what to expect this season.

Holiday 2021 Readiness for Your Gun Store

With our world permanently changed thanks to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, we can expect even more e-commerce and shipped orders this holiday season than last year. The continued acceleration of eroding in-store sales and big shifts to e-commerce continues to emphasize that retailers should be preparing once again to ensure they can digitally promote to their customers. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, e-commerce sales growth has averaged 34% in just the first quarter of the year. In fact, the pandemic boosted online sales over the last year by an astounding $183 billion, with 2021 sales expected to reach up to $930 million. Next year (2022) is not expected to slow down, either, with expectations of online sales reaching a stunning $1 trillion. Curbside pickup growth is expected to continue to increase by 67%. NSSF data notes an estimated 40% of sales were to first-time gun owners, who statistically are more likely to be online shoppers. Dealers have to prepare for a big online focus, reach out to all those new gun owners, and develop creative ways to get people back in the store.


Establish Good Marketing Best Practices: Having a solid e-commerce site is a great step forward if your customers know about it. Adding lots of conspicuous signage advertising your website all over the store and window signage was shown to deliver stunning results for retailers during the first wave of COVID. Giant window decals of [YOURSTORE.COM] with delivery options in a font size that is visible from the parking lot have worked really well for retailers. Offering curbside pickup for local customers as an e-commerce option with a separate pickup number has seen very large adoption, with over 30% of customers preferring curb pickup. Adding to the online order database with a customer marketing database of any walk-in or event traffic should get customers included in your weekly email marketing program. Events that can be flexible around social distancing requirements, such as shooting competitions, basics and handling classes, should get organized and scheduled. External events like competitions, general training and even paintball have shown to really deliver solid customer loyalty, great promotional opportunities, an option for exclusive deals, and follow-up sales.


Kick off Holiday Sales Now: COVID has made the already difficult holiday marketing calendar even trickier. Instead of kicking off sales just after Halloween or Black Friday, last year, holiday sales started in late August. Part of that was that many retailers were starving and there was a constant stream of deep discounted sales from retailers panicking. What should be obvious is that retailers are all competing for the same available disposable household income. If the customer spends the majority of their holiday cash on a new TV, stereo and home appliances during early sales in September, they likely will not have money for ammo and guns in November. Whether we like it or not, guns and ammo are down the list of purchase priorities for many shoppers, so it is best to get to customers early this year. Although the last two years have been anything but typical, typical marketing holiday sales start at Halloween — but if last year is any indication of how the market has changed, September may be the new holiday kickoff time. It’s too late by the time you’re reading this to get an early start, but keep it in mind for 2022.


Target Female Shooters: According to the NSSF dealer survey data infographic, dealers noted that approximately 40.1% of new customers were female. Overlay additional NSSF data noting dealers indicated that over 67% of customers said they were purchasing for self-defense and we have a strong case that the large majority of female shooters are defense oriented. Female buyers usually prefer well-lit and spotless stores with sales associates lacking the alpha male demeanor. Female shooters have shown to be less price conscious and more focused on support and training. Dealers who have done well with female shooters also offer training courses and on site-ranges, and they offer carry options designed for females such as a variety of belly carry bands and Alexo Concealed Carry Leggings. They have a higher percentage of female sellers, are actively involved by sponsoring female-only shooting events, and are far beyond just the mindset of selling pink guns to girls.


Basics Training & Gun Handling: Often too much focus is put into live-fire shooting of firearms instead of dry-fire-based training, gun manipulation, handling and movement skills. Low-cost and safe dry-fire training classes, which observe social distancing requirements, can deliver huge improvements for customers in a very short period of time, all while getting them familiar with the firearm and learning to move with the gun. These events also help customers develop a bond and trust with your store and can generate new sales. For those brand-new shooters of any gender, this option also removes a huge amount of stress and apprehension of using live rounds. Even for those stores that do not have on-site ranges, dry-fire training can be inexpensive for attendees and deliver what net-new gun owners need to be safe and confident with their gun skills. Airsoft training can make use of empty offices for scenario-based training as an add-on to these events. Many dealers are partnering with paintball fields to offer simulations of what a live-fire scenario could be like. For those dealers with on-site ranges, the training options are limitless and should be pushed hard for these new shooters.


Strong Holiday 2021 Sales Still Predicted: New shooters will naturally need and want new accessories and add an overall increase in ammunition sales. According to a recent interview with Hornady, with about 40% of sales to new shooters, they expect the new shooter market and new female shooter market to have a noticeable impact on accessories and ammunition over the next decade. Though nearly every manufacturer we have talked with over the course of the year is saying things are returning to a more manageable level, all unanimously felt that holiday 2021 will deliver another sales bubble similar to 2020. Net new customers means a whole new set of customers are getting into guns and adding things to their holiday shopping list. The political climate is also a big driver, with many potential regulatory changes pending and much uncertainty around personal security driving holiday sales, but the biggest challenge this year for dealers will be capturing as much of those sales with strong marketing programs, attention to the needs of new customers, and early holiday sales promotions.


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