In an exclusive poll for Gun Trade News conducted on 25 and 26 March 2020, two-thirds of gun businesses revealed that they were temporarily closing to deal with the impact of coronavirus.

Sixty per cent of respondents had already closed, with another eight per cent planning to close soon. Twenty-five per cent said they would stay open throughout the crisis, but with a skeleton staff, with only seven per cent saying it would be business as usual.

A quarter of retailers reported that they had seen a temporary rise in sales, but forty percent of the industry reported that their sales had collapsed.

Asked how long they thought these measures might last, forty per cent of the industry was looking just a month or two ahead, the remaining sixty per cent were less optimistic, expecting that it might be ‘several’ months before business properly resumed.

Only one respondent thought the pandemic would mean the end of their business, but twenty per cent said they felt ‘very grim’ about their prospects. The vast majority (fifty-seven per cent) agreed that they were ‘concerned’ for the future of their business, with twenty per cent feeling neutral, and just one respondent feeling positive.

The poll, conducted via Survey Monkey, had over 50 responses from organisations across all aspects of the industry, with about half of the respondents representing retailers.

Steve Faragher, editor of Gun Trade News, said: “This is clearly going to be a very tough period for the industry. I’m sure however, that with some common sense, and the help that the government has put in place, the majority of the trade will make it through and emerge stronger. We all have an opportunity now to pause, take stock and put our houses in order for when business fully resumes later this year.”

Simon West of trade body the Gun Trade Association commented: “The whole trade is suffering now that the government has closed non-essential retail and leisure activity.

The new support packages for companies and sole traders give us a chance to survive. I’ve been providing advice on the GTA website with links to where to get further help. Traders must take advantage of all that is on offer.”

“Although we don’t know when this lock-down will end, we must keep in touch with our customers and build their enthusiasm for getting out shooting as soon as they can. We should do whatever we can to make sure we all return to our sport with vigour.”

Jack Knott, BASC’s head of press, said: “As an industry and a community we must remain positive, look to help those in need and keep focused on the bigger picture. Coronavirus will of course be a challenge for both businesses and individuals. However, countless stories of altruism and sacrifice show that together we can get through this and come out stronger on the other side.”

Gun Trade News is the UK gun industry’s trade newspaper and is published by Future Publishing. The next edition will be sent out in mid April. Subscription is free to the gun trade.

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