Knife Industry Sales Finally Rebound

In August, we reported that in the first half of 2017, US knife sales were down and had failed to rebound like the industry had anticipated. But according to SSI Data, which tracks the sales of guns, ammunition, outdoor accessories, and knives across multiple channels, the end of 2017 brought some great news.

A very strong holiday season more than offset knife sales declines in the first half of the year. In fact, last year, knife sales experienced positive growth for the first time since 2015. “The category was up about 10% year over year,” SSI Data’s Odie Tucker tells us. “It’s been a great holiday season for knives and tools.”

SSI Data also confirmed the findings of a November KnifeNews reader survey. Spending in the knife and tool category has shifted from large sports retailers and major ecommerce websites to specialty retailers which is great news for knife dealers. “The pace for independent guys and specialty retailers has picked up – both online and in-store,” Tucker reports. SSI Data says more exclusive products and consumers’ increasing desire for a deeper product selection may be contributing factors.

SSI Data’s findings are not all positive. KAI-USA Ltd’s sales took another 15% hit in 2017 according to their data. In the stores SSI Data tracks, the maker of Kershaw and Zero Tolerance knives’ holiday sales were down more than 50% versus the same period in 2014.

The company still enjoys strong sales of Zero Tolerance knives and the Kershaw Launch Series has also been a bright spot. But according to Tucker, the Kershaw brand’s new product development hasn’t kept pace with competitors. “Their best-selling products have been in the catalog for a long time, whereas other companies get most of their sales from their newer stuff,” Tucker explains.

He points to the innovative CRKT Homefront as an example of a product that has really resonated. “If you look at it, you know it’s interesting because the knife shows you that it’s interesting.” On the other hand, Tucker says Kershaw’s best-sellers remain models from years past like the Blur, Chive, Cryo, and Leek. “Kershaw is still in the mix but they’re just not where they used to be.”

Knife featured in image: CRKT Homefront