As panic around the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the country, millions of Americans have begun to pillage local grocery stores in order to stockpile on everything from canned food to toilet paper.
For guns and ammunition stores, however, major runs on inventory is hardly anything new. The news cycle seems to have consistently driven huge spikes in sales at local gun and ammo shops, and if early evidence is any indication, coronavirus might be driving more sales than any other event the industry has experienced.
Sporting goods stores, likewise, have experienced recent runs on inventory as Americans rush to make sure they’re supplied in case of emergency in these suddenly uncertain times.
At Womply, we’ve been analyzing revenue data at local businesses in all 50 states and across hundreds of business categories, and we wanted to see exactly how coronavirus fears have affected sales at local sporting goods and guns and ammo shops.
A daily view of how sporting goods and guns and ammo sales are trending compared to the same time last year
One way to look at impact on firearm and sporting goods stores is to analyze every day of the 2020 calendar year against sales on the closest day of the week in 2019. That’s what you’re seeing in the chart below for all 50 states (we’ll look at specific states and cities later on).
Note: if viewing on mobile, rotate device to landscape for best viewing experience of the charts in this article
A few observations:
- Sporting goods and guns and ammo stores have been outperforming 2019 all year long.
- On Feb 26th, as the pandemic really began to enter the daily news cycle, sales jumped to 28% above 2019, and haven’t dropped below a 15% increase since
- Sales began to skyrocket beginning on March 11th (the day the NBA announced it was suspending its season), hitting an incredible 202% increase nationwide by Wednesday, March 18th.
- Sales dropped down to around a 100% increase the following week, and have remained high through the end of March and into April
Here’s a daily calendar view of the same stats:
Map: Last week year-over-year change in sporting goods and guns and ammo shops in response to coronavirus preppers
One way to look at how a surge in guns and ammo sales might be impacting local businesses is to look at the most recent week vs. the same time period in 2019. The graphic below shows this view for sporting goods stores and guns and ammo shops, updated daily to show the most recent 7-day period.
Note, you can click on a state to view county-level data
The map above reflects sales from last week (the week of Monday, April 27). Here are a few observations:
- Revenue was still up significantly in nearly every state in the country
- Only 4 states saw moderate to significant drops in revenue
People emptied out sporting goods and firearm stores across the state of Kansas far earlier than in any other state
Now, let’s drill down and look at a few states and metro areas. First up, Kansas, where sporting goods and guns and ammo store sales saw huge runs on inventory far earlier than in any other state. As you can see in the national map above, Kansas may have been simply ahead of the curve, as the week of March 23rd saw Kansas sporting goods stores posting more moderate increases in revenue compared to other states.
- Sporting goods and firearms stores in Kansas were already doing pretty well in 2020, but sales really took off in late February, spiking to a 320% increase on Thursday, Feb 20th.
- By March 2nd, when confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. reach 100, sales spiked to an incredible 603% increase over 2019
- The entire month of March has been a free-for-all at Kansas sporting goods and guns and ammo shops. Sales were consistently 200% or more above 2019’s figures
A closer look at the areas first hit hardest by COVID-19
New York was one of the first U.S. states with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, so it would make sense that the urgency around the pandemic would be felt in the Empire State.
- In general, sporting goods and guns and ammo store sales have been up by 20% or more so far in 2020.
- Sales jumped all the way to 90% above 2019’s figures on Thursday, March 12th (the day after the NBA suspended its season, and Governor Cuomo announced that CUNY and SUNY schools would be closing for at least a week).
- The next week, when the seriousness really began to settle in, sales went up an astounding 351% on March 16th, and remained high for the next several days as New Yorkers prepared to shelter in place
- Sales dropped during the week of March 23rd, as New Yorkers stayed at home, only to rebound again at the end of the Month.
A clear upward trend for California sporting goods and firearm stores
In addition to New York, California has had a disproportionately high number of confirmed coronavirus cases as a global travel hub. And while California hasn’t seen dramatic increases in sales across the state, there’s a clear upward spike the weekend when news of the virus began to grow particularly serious.
And, just like in New York, the week of Monday, March 16th marked a clear run on sporting goods and guns and ammo shops.
And here’s a view of the Bay Area, where the outbreak has been especially serious.
Even in a region of California not often associated with high sporting goods and guns and ammo sales, the coronavirus pandemic is clearly driving bay area locals to stock up on guns, ammo, and likely a whole lot of home workout equipment.
As you can see, sales climbed on March 1, and skyrocketed all the way to more than 400% above 2019’s figures on March 18th, with several days since topping the 100% increase mark.
Washington state has also had a recent run on sporting goods and guns and ammo shops
Life Care Center, a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. And, Washington has seen some of the highest infection and death rates in the country. So, let’s see if Washingtonians are responding by stocking up on guns and ammo.
Despite the virus taking an early foothold in the state, Washingtonians didn’t appear to really start rushing out to sporting goods and guns and ammo shops right away. While there were a few healthy increases in revenue in February and early March, once again, Monday, March 16th was when Washingtonians began to empty the shelves at guns and ammo shops.
Zooming into King County, which includes Seattle and Kirkland, shows similar trends.
As you can see, the spikiness reflects more runs on local sporting goods stores and guns and ammo shops. There are big swings in revenue, resulting in year-over-year sales dipping well above and below the 2019 benchmark.
There’s then a major surge around the start of March, which coincides with news breaking of confirmed coronavirus cases at Life Care Center in Kirkland. And, once again sales skyrocket on Monday, March 16th.
What’s next for U.S. guns and ammo shops?
If COVID-19 continues to spread in the U.S., we can expect continued runs on American sporting goods and guns and ammo stores. That will result in spiky revenue patterns as consumers decimate store shelves, followed by supermarkets trying to restock on guns, ammo, and other sporting goods supplies.
In general, this bodes well for sporting goods and guns and ammo store revenue, although their inability to restock could lead to long-term softening in revenue. If the U.S. economy goes into recession as a result of the coronavirus, all local businesses will feel the pain, including sporting goods and guns and ammo stores whose customers have to cut back.
We will continue to update this data analysis over time, and we’re continuing to analyze sales patterns at other local business types such as restaurants, bars, retail stores, lodging businesses, and more. Stay tuned.
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