post strong sales increases
Sour economy, potential
for tightened regulations
drive buyers to firearms
By NATALIE ZMUDA
CABELA’S: Retailer turned in strong fourth-quarter results thanks to firearm sales.
THE ECONOMY MIGHT be tanking, but
firearm sales are going great guns.
Despite the weakest holiday season on record, outdoor-products
retailer Cabela’s turned in strong
fourth-quarter sales, largely as a
result of an increase in firearm and
ammunition sales. Smith & Wesson
is reporting pistol sales up 40%, and
Sturm, Ruger & Co. reported an 81%
increase in firearm revenue.
In November, on the heels of
Barack Obama’s election, background checks for firearm sales
jumped 42% to a record 1.5 million.
But that pace has not abated, with a
24% rise in background checks in
December, a 28% uptick in January
and a 23% increase in February.
A new Democratic administration
typically heralds a rash of gun purchases, as consumers fear the possibility of more restrictions on firearm
purchases—the election of Bill
Clinton in 1992 accompanied an 18-
month surge in firearm sales. But
industry experts say the
tough economy, along with a
desire for leisure activities
close to home, will ensure
strong firearm sales in the
coming months, regardless
of the attention the Obama
administration gives to gun
“The continued increase in gun
sales can be attributed to both political and economic factors,” said Ted
Novin, director-public affairs for
The National Shooting Sports
Foundation. “In tough economic
times, more people become concerned about security—a strong
reason to purchase a firearm.
Similarly, when income is an issue,
it’s reasonable to believe that hunting becomes that much more popular. Hunting in the field, as opposed
to a local grocery store, ensures
safe, high-protein food at a much
Eric Zinczenko, publisher of Field
& Stream and Outdoor
Life, said hunting is the
only hobby where you can
go out and “bring your dinner home.” He added, “The
ability to feed your family
in these tough economic
times [is] a point that we’re
seeing is not lost [on consumers].”
Sales figures at a host of manufacturers and retailers are surprisingly
robust, given consumers are reigning
in their spending habits. Regarding
Cabela’s strong fourth-quarter sales,
President-CEO Dennis Highby said
sales at stores open at least a year,
which rose 2%, would likely have
been down 1%, excluding firearm
Part of a series
and ammunition sales.
“We’re excited that we have the
merchandise that people want in this
type of environment,” Mr. Highby
said during a call with analysts. “We
saw strength in ammunition,
firearms; reloading was big; archery
was strong. He added that those categories remained strong in the first
six weeks of the year.
BassPro, a privately held company, also reports its sales are robust.
Larry Whiteley, a spokesman for
the company, said that the company
had a “very good” fourth quarter
and a strong start to 2009. Mr.
Whiteley said firearm sales are up
but added that the fishing category
has been outperforming as well.
On the manufacturing side, publicly traded firearm manufacturers,
such as Smith & Wesson and
Sturm, Ruger & Co. are enjoying
strong sales and relatively steadier
stock prices. Smith & Wesson said
aside from the 40% growth in pistol sales in its most recent quarter,
tactical rifle sales soared 308%.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. reported an
81% increase in firearms revenue.
In a message on its website, Rock
River Arms, which specializes in
custom rifles and pistols, cites an
“overwhelming increase in orders”
in explaining why it can no longer
provide estimated delivery dates,
and notes that it is increasing production.
Pharma benefits from surge in sleep-aid, antidepressant prescriptions
Marketing outlays down,
but more consumers
seek relief from anxiety
By RICH THOMASELLI
YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE? Not for
some pharmaceutical companies seeing big sales jumps for sleep aids and
antidepressants, despite lower marketing spending in both categories.
Despite dramatic decreases in
marketing, prescriptions for sleeping pills are up.
According to IMS Health, prescriptions for major sleeping-pill
brands rose 7% last year, while
The economy, it appears, is keeping us up at night, according to a new
NOT-SO-SLEEPY SALES: Scripts up 7%.
“Sleep In America” poll out this
week from the Washington-based
National Sleep Foundation. Some
31% of respondents said they are
losing sleep over the dismal economy and their own financial situation.
“The pattern certainly suggests”
the economy is a factor, said Amy
Wolfson, a professor at College of
the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.,
and one of five members of the poll
taskforce. “There are worries about
the economy and that can certainly
lead to insomnia.”
Even more surprising, prescriptions are up despite a dramatic
decrease in marketing—in the case of
sleeping aids, by hundreds of millions
of dollars. According to figures from TNS Media
Intelligence, spending on
sleep-aid Ambien CR fell
from $190 million in 2007
to $150 million in 2008
while outlays on Lunesta
plunged to $107 million in
2008 from $271 the prior year.
Rozerem alone cut spending by $100
million from $140 million in ‘07.
The cutbacks were less clear-cut
for antidepressants. Spending on
Cymbalta was pretty much flat at
$179 million in 2008 but spending
on Effexor fell by more than half
from $21.2 million in 2007 to $9.8
million last year, TNS figures show.
According to a 2008 study by
Marketdata Enterprises, Tampa,
Fla., sleep is a $23.7 billion annual
industry in the U.S. That includes
medications, sleep labs/sleep centers, mattresses and pillows,
continuous-positive-air-way-pressure machines and
retail sleep aids. According to
IMS Health, almost $19 billion of that comes from
direct-to-consumer prescription sleep medications.
Dr. Robert Aronson, a sleep specialist at Cardinal Sleep Center in
Joliet, Ill., said there is a correlation
between the falling economy, a lack of
sleep and the uptick in prescriptions
and purchase of sleep aids—and he
doesn’t see it ending soon. “The economic problems are likely to be pro-
Part of a series
tracted,” he said. But, he added, continual use of sleep aids are “not good
because sedative hypnotics are best
used for short-term insomnias due to
Sales of antidepressants in 2008
were up 2% compared with 2007.
While prescriptions were up, dollar
sales of prescription sleep aids were
down 30% in ‘08 vs. ‘07 because the
patent expired on Ambien (which
was succeeded by Ambien CR). Sales
were also hurt by the introduction of
the cheaper generic Zolpidem, not to
mention the emergence of more
sleep medications such as Unisom.
The total over-the-counter market for sleep aids reached $604 million in 2008, an increase of 9% over
2007 according to Packaged Facts, a
division of Rockville, Md.-based
Market Research Group.
?CHECK OUT ALL THE LATEST
AAAAs MEDIA CONFERENCE NEWS AT
S M SS
OMETH NG? adage.com/aaaamediaconf09/
FEATURING VIDEOS, BLOGS AND PICS.