Year of the Gun Derails Knife Sales

“I will not let you down. Remember that. I will not let you down,” the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump told the NRA Leadership after the organization endorsed him for President on Friday.

The exchange occurred at the NRA Annual Meeting (NRAAM) in Louisville, Kentucky to kick-off the weekend long convention. Exhibiting at the NRAAM were some of the biggest brands in the knife world including Benchmade, Kershaw, CRKT, Cold Steel, and Zero Tolerance.

Guns and Knives Have Prospered Together
The presence of knife companies at the gun meeting reflects the complementary relationship that exists between the two industries. They share many of the same retailers and end users. Both defend the rights of their customers to own their products and both have grown significantly in the last 5 years. Guns and knives have prospered together.

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“There are many more losers than winners in the knife category.”
But 2016 is an election year with conditions that have sales of guns and ammunition skyrocketing at the expense of gun accessory sales and especially knife sales. “Even gun accessories like hearing and eye protection are down. All the growth we are seeing is in the sale of guns and ammunition,” says Odie Tucker of SSI Data, the company that tracks the sales of guns, accessories, and knives across multiple channels. “Knife sales in the first quarter of 2016 are down significantly versus a year ago. There are many more losers than winners in the knife category,” he says.

Clinton Statement on 2nd Amendment

2nd Amendment in the Crosshairs
Gun buyers’ fears appear to be legitimate as proponents of gun control have the 2nd Amendment in their crosshairs. “The Supreme Court is wrong on the 2nd Amendment and I will make that case any chance I get,” Hillary Clinton said in October. Clinton, who will almost certainly represent the Democrats on the ballot this November, was referring to the Heller Gun Ruling. In the 2008 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the rights of Americans to own guns by a vote of 5-4.

“After Justice Scalia’s death, we don’t have 5 votes anymore,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s Chief Lobbyist told the NRA Leadership on Friday. According to SSI Data, sales of the best selling Smith & Wesson Shield Nine handgun tripled in the week after Scalia died in February. “The next President chooses the next Justice so the 2nd Amendment is on the ballot this November,” Cox said.

Share of Wallet Declining
With three more Justices in their 80s, the next President will very likely have the power to change the face of the Court and the fate of the 2nd Amendment for decades to come. It’s hard to picture how the knife industry can emerge from the shadow of the firearms industry as the election heats up and gets even more media time and attention. In the year of the gun, the knife world’s share of consumers’ wallets is declining and in a stagnant economy those wallets haven’t been getting any fatter.