How’s Business: Christmas build-up

‘Tis the season for increased spending, so Gun Trade News’s Rebecca Bailey takes the time to ask retailers: What do their customers want for Christmas?

At the time of writing, it’s early November and I’m certainly not thinking about my Christmas gift plans as much as I really should. Not so our dedicated retailers; up and down the country, a spectrum of Christmas bargains are filling the shops, and the gun trade is no different. With the season landing right in the middle of the already lucrative game season, it’s time to ask retailers whether this Christmas will be a merry one.

First up, Richard from the Cheshire Gunroom admitted that Christmas offers weren’t appearing in the shop yet, and neither were the Christmas shoppers: “We don’t do Christmas offers, not really, as we’re priced competitively anyway.” He added that the festive customers weren’t out yet, as it was a bit early. Despite this, the Cheshire Gunroom website has its own Gift Ideas tab, present all year round, but particularly in demand, no doubt, at this time of the year. A useful set of sub-categories allows the uninitiated to pick the discipline their loved one pursues, and buy a gift accordingly. Ranging from Game Shooter to Country Enthusiast, more and more of these gift pages are appearing on retail websites, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was inspired by customer queries at this time of year. Richard mentioned that pigeon shooting “is just starting to die out now – it’s more game shooters now,” with the cartridge of choice being the new Gamebore Black Gold Dark Storm, which has been flying off the shelves. Trusty Browning 525s and Beretta Silver Pigeons are pulling in the punters, while Air Arms is dominating the airgun sales for the time being. As the longer nights set in, Richard also added that the Nitesite NV units were seeing a great deal of popularity, due to the seasonal discounts on the Wolf, Eagle and Viper models.

With the weather on the turn, clothing and footwear sales have climbed (Photo credit: Andy Lee)

Daniel of Keen’s Guns had noticed the initial seasonal surge, and said: “It’s starting to now, we are starting to see some people coming in to buy for other people.” Keen’s Guns usually arranges for promotional offers to hit the shop floor around the end of November, so their customers can expect to see bundles and bargains later in the month. When asked to describe what kinds of products were favoured around this time, Daniel said: “It’s right across the board of what we sell, it all depends on what people are looking to spend and what they’ve got on them at the time.” With a range of over 250 airguns alone, the hunting and shooting section of the shop is well prepared for any spike in winter sales over the holidays: “We try our best to stock what we can.” Shotguns were following a similar trend for the game season: “Browning and Berettas are good value really, and in a good price bracket, so they do sell quite well,” but the Franchi shotguns in the middle-range price bracket have been the best sellers. The Howa M-1500 has been the favoured rifle brand at Keen’s, mostly because of the special all-inclusive bundle currently running in the shop. The combo deal, coming in at £950, includes the Howa M-1500, a sound moderator, scope, bipod and magazine conversion kit, and has been doing very well: “People are splashing out”. On top of that, the brand new Tracer LED Sport Light has been the customer favourite for lamping equipment.

Meanwhile, Malmo Guns expects a very busy winter. Rosie said: “We’re quite fortunate that around this time of year we are incredibly busy because our predominant market is game shooters.” Malmo Guns don’t tend to offer special Christmas deals and bargains, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have particular Christmas best sellers: Meindl and Dubarry are their footwear favourites. Harkila has been doing very well, with people saving up for the premium brand. The most seasonal products at Malmo, however, have to be the Seeland range of children’s sporting attire, which would no doubt make a fitting present for Christmas morning. Malmo Guns greatest asset, despite their reputation for being one of the friendliest gunshops in the country, is their heavy use of social media to spread the word about competitions and promotions. Their Facebook page features two or three competitions a year, yet Rosie added that Twitter is used as more of a bulletin board for discounted or new stock rather than promotional offers.

Dark Storm: new for the grouse season, Gamebore’s latest cartridge has been doing well

Dark Storm: new for the grouse season, Gamebore’s latest cartridge has been doing well

Finally, we spoke with Kelda at UK Shoot Warehouse, an online-based retailer with their Christmas promotions already in action, ready and waiting for their seasonal shoppers. With a Christmas banner of festive snowy green in place on their ordering website since early November, we asked Kelda what other measures were being taken to prepare for the festive season: “We are expecting to be busy, we’ve had to ensure that we have sufficient stock to fill the demand.” On asking about their special decoying products, Kelda mentioned their best seller, the Sillosocks decoy. UK Shoot Warehouse is the exclusive European distributor for the brand. The product (a lightweight, ultra-realistic decoy) is buoyed up by the wind and generates a bouncing motion similar to birdlike movement: “We do all sorts of pigeon, geese, duck and crow decoys, but at the moment the pink foot geese ones are just selling and selling.” It would seem wildfowlers are investing in the new invention over the season, as the retailer has already taken a huge order on the product. In addition to stocking up on the customers’ favourites, UK Shoot Warehouse also offers several special bundles for the holidays: “We’re trying to cater for all budgets” said Kelda, and the highlight of the offers is the Pigeon Shooter Starter Kit, specially designed for introducing new shooters to the field. Making excellent Christmas presents in themselves, the bundles include Sillosocks, and are available for amateur to experienced pigeon shooters. Seasoned shooters are catered to with the Pro Motion Pigeon Magnet Rotary Platinum Package in the top price bracket, while smaller stocking fillers such as the Jack Pyke Multi Gun Cleaning Kit at £27 will be popular for tighter budgets. “We’ve got things from £10 up to £200+ to try to cater for everybody: all budgets, all experiences, from new starters to people who have been doing it for a long time – there’s something for everyone.” The retailer will also be looking into personalisation for their Croots England stock of bags and slips and, although not available at the moment, Kelda said it might be coming soon due to customer demand.

So there we have it, a range of retail Christmas bargains and best sellers, all pointing to a surge in demand over the holidays for, as you would expect, game shooting and wildfowling gear. Stocking-fillers, customer gift guides and special bundles are all finding their ways into the gun shops of the nation, making it that much easier for shoppers to pick up the perfect present pronto.

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