With employment easing but remaining strong, and inflationary concerns diminishing, the risk of a recession in 2024 is lower. What’s the 2024 outlook for the fishing, hunting, and shooting sports sectors?
The Federal Reserve crew has done a good job managing away the risk of a recession. If one does happen, we think it will be mild. Unemployment will grow, at least through the first half of 2024, but remain within healthy levels. This means our core consumer will still have time to participate. With wages remaining strong, they will also have income to buy higher-priced products, including firearms and upper-end fishing tackle. High interest rates will reduce boat sales and real estate, but the rest of the trade should expect consumer sales to remain healthy, matching pre-pandemic levels. We’ve already seen fishing and hunting license sales drop back to 2019 levels. Manufacturers’ profitability will be affected by higher interest rates and excess inventories at retail in some sectors which will reduce wholesale orders.
Headwinds that may cause consumer hesitation may occur within the middle-class ranks where recent increases in personal income have not been as significant as seen in the wage-earner ranks.
On the other hand, when the economy is overheated, our core consumers have extra money to purchase high-end items but less time to participate. Consumable items such as lures, fishing lines, ammunition, and targets often do not sell as well when unemployment remains very low. This has generally been the condition in 2023. For more economic details and forecast insights from Southwick Associates, see us at the SHOT Show in January and watch for our annual review in the upcoming issue of Shooting Industry. Please contact Nancy Bacon if you are interested in Southwick Associates’ industry-only hunting and shooting trade trends webinar, conducted every six months.
Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm specializing in the hunting, recreational shooting, sportfishing and outdoor recreation markets. For more than 30 years, Southwick Associates has established a proven reputation for delivering comprehensive insights and statistics assisting business and strategic decisions across the entire outdoor industry; from government agencies, industry associations and non-profit organizations, to affiliated businesses and manufacturers. Aside from custom market research, Southwick Associates also provides syndicated participation, media consumption and equipment purchase tracking studies utilizing their proprietary consumer sportsmen panels. Visit www.southwickassociates.com for more information