“Crisis Fatigue” Impacting
2024 Plans


Image: Gajus / Adobe Stock

Across each of Shooting Industry’s 2024 New Business Year editions — the Dec. 2023 and Jan. 2024 issues — one overarching theme has risen to the surface: uncertainty is putting a crimp in long-term planning.

In the December issue, Fort Thompson Sporting Goods Owner Tom Denniston observed retailers and consumers alike are suffering from “crisis fatigue.” This succinctly sums up what has been a chaotic period for everyone over nearly four years — and has made long-term planning exceedingly difficult.

Today, gauging how long a wave of demand is going to last is anything but straightforward. Dealers have to tread a fine line: investing in too much inventory presents just as much a risk as not having it in the first place.

“A couple of times I bought too much,” Denniston recalled. “If you get too much stuff bought and everybody catches up, the price goes down, and you’re stuck with inventory you paid too much for.”

Fortunately, Denniston has learned from his experiences and takes a more balanced approach to buying.

“I’m not going crazy buying stuff,” he said. “We can react quickly to [a surge] versus Academy and Bass Pro. We can react to it as far as getting stuff through distributors and direct. … We’re hanging neutral.”

On the other hand, however, not having enough inventory presents its own set of challenges. An experienced voice in the industry, Hyatt Guns Owner Larry Hyatt lent his expertise on what dealers need to have in 2024.

“Stores better have a good selection because nobody wants to drive to a physical store if they don’t have products,” he shared.

In an election year — which will likely bring its own chaos — having what Hyatt dubs “social unrest” inventory on hand isn’t a bad idea either.

“We have what we call ‘social unrest’ inventory. You better have it, because your law enforcement needs it, and your citizens need it. So, you have to have some ammunition stocked up,” he said.

There will be a lot involved in “getting it right” in 2024. It’s certainly a balancing act, but traits that have served business owners in the past will certainly help here in 2024 — some savvy and ingenuity, mixed with luck and a healthy dose of grit, represent a firm foundation.

Consumers Are Very Much “Still With Us”

In their annual New Business Year preview story, Nancy Bacon and Rob Southwick closed with the following: “The consumer is still standing by our side, and it’s up to us to manage capacity and inventories accordingly.”

The customer is indeed still with us — the onus is on all of us to draw them in with innovative products and solutions to meet their self-defense needs. 

NICS trends from the first 11 months of 2023 and Black Friday, in particular, reveal there is still substantial interest from consumers. As of Nov. 30, 2023, there were 14,072,221 NSSF-adjusted NICS background checks (a 4.1% decrease from 2022). According to NSSF, while Black Friday week 2023 was down 4.3% compared to 2022, “Black Friday” alone resulted in a record 214,913 (unadjusted) checks. 

“These figures tell us that there is a continued strong appetite for lawful firearm ownership by law-abiding Americans and firearm manufacturers across the country continue to deliver the quality firearms our customers have come to expect,” observed Joe Bartozzi, president and CEO of NSSF.

In other welcome news, an NBC poll revealed more than half of American voters (52%) say they or someone in their household owns a firearm. According to NBC, this represents the highest share of those either owning a firearm or living with someone with one since it began polling this question in 1999. Stunningly, this figure has jumped 10% in just 10 years.

We’ll explore the implications of these latest figures — as well as reviewing the full 2023 NICS figures — in next month’s issue.

To Read More Shooting Industry January 2024 Issue Now!