The Crazy State of Current Firearm Demand

Walmart ammo ammunition gun shelf empty
Image courtesy Jim McGuire

Have you seen much ammunition in your local gun stores or sporting good retailers? We haven’t. From surveying the shelves in these parts, you might think it was May, 2020, not 2021. Unless you’re looking for an esoteric caliber, the only thing you’ll find on your retailer’s ammo shelves is a thin layer of dust.

Current retail prices of about three times what they were in The Time Before haven’t seemed to temper demand much. While firearm production seems to have caught up and the dmand tapered off slightly, with the current social and political climate, the average gun owner appears to have concluded that he can’t possibly have too much gun food. Not now.

That’s the conclusion industry marketing firm Soutwick Associates has come to as well. They’ve released some information about ammunition demand from recent market research and based on what they’ve found, don’t expect to see more availability — or lower prices — any time soon.

From their press release . . .

Ammunition consumers indicate that demand will remain strong well into 2021. According to Southwick Associates’ ongoing shooting sports consumer market research, multiple reasons are driving the continued unparalleled demand.

In April 2021, Southwick Associates surveyed more than 1,800 ammunition consumers as part of its quarterly HunterSurvey/ShooterSurvey tracking study. In 2020, four out of five consumers encountered out of stock issues while trying to purchase ammunition, while three-quarters encountered out of stock situations so far in 2021. Of these respondents, 79% reported either fully or partially reducing their target shooting and hunting outings as a result of depleted ammunition shelves.

Going forward, ammunition demand is expected to remain high. Nearly two-thirds of ammunition consumers report their current ammunition inventory was lower than they would prefer. When asked how much more ammunition they would like to have on hand, 43% reported “much more” while 38% reported “a little more.” Only 17% were satisfied with the amounts they currently had on hand.

When asked why they desire more ammunition, key reasons included:

    • Uncertainty about future ammunition supplies (72%). This is especially true among consumers 45+ years of age.
    • Uncertainty about future restrictions on ammunition purchases (70%).
    • Uncertainty about future economic conditions (54%).
    • Increased shooting and hunting activity (26%). This was more common among the 25-34 year-old consumers.

“At some point, demand will certainly soften,” reports Rob Southwick, President of Southwick Associates. “However, frenzied purchasing and empty shelves often fuels further increases in demand. We do not see demand softening in the near future.”

Southwick Associates will release additional top-level insights regarding market and consumer trends in the hunting, recreational shooting, and home/away defense markets as they become available.

Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm, specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing and other outdoor recreation markets. For more than 30 years, Southwick Associates has established a proven record 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.

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