NSSF Explains Dip in Black Friday Gun Sales

(Editor’s note: The following is a syndicated article from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  It was originally published on Nov. 26, 2018, and authored by Joe Bartozzi, the president of the NSSF.)

I have been reading articles today concerning the mainstream media’s observation (some might say “obsession”) that NICS background checks for Black Friday 2018 were down as compared to Black Friday 2017.

In light of these articles, I thought it might be useful to put some of this data, and these reports, into perspective.

In reviewing the Ten-Year Unadjusted FBI NICS data for the week of Thanksgiving, we see some interesting trends developing. And, at a meeting between NSSF staff and FBI personnel at the NICS headquarters in October, the FBI was actually pleased that many retailers were doing promotions in advance of or in addition to Black Friday. By doing this, both the retailers and the FBI – NICS system were alleviating the stress and strain of an extremely high volume of checks on Black Friday alone.

So, looking at the data for the entire Thanksgiving week (Monday to Sunday) we see some very interesting results:

  • The Monday before Thanksgiving 2018 had the highest number of NICS checks ever for that specific day. 83,970 checks were performed. While this number was up only 715 checks over 2017, it is up by over 3,000 checks for the next highest year (2015).
  • Likewise, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving saw the highest number of NICS checks ever for that specific day. This year, 91,271 checks were preformed, which far outpaced 2017 (by more than 5,000 checks) and was 1,680 checks higher than the next highest year (also 2015).
  • The Saturday after Thanksgiving was higher yet with a total of 98,020 checks performed. This was the highest total of Thanksgiving week (with the exception of only Black Friday), and this number far outpaced all other post-Thanksgiving Saturdays. This figure was more than 3,000 checks higher than 2017, and more than 2,500 more than the next highest year (coincidentally, also 2015).
  • Also of note is the fact that Thanksgiving Day itself saw the second highest number of checks, being narrowly edged out by 2017 (by 372 checks); likewise for the Sunday after Thanksgiving, coming in second only to last year’s total, but outpacing all previous years by a wide margin.

So, the takeaway from all of this number-crunching and obsession with Black Friday 2018 sales is that while NICS checks were down overall from 2017, it’s not enough to focus on that one specific day. With many retailers expanding their promotions to the entire week of Thanksgiving, one should look at the bigger picture. There are a number of factors that determine the gun-buying habits of consumers, and trying to draw any conclusions from looking at one day of NICS checks is inappropriate and misleading.

The sales for the week of Thanksgiving were the highest on record when compared to all previous years, with the exception of 2015 and 2017. A simple analysis of the past 10 years’ data shows a decidedly upward trend, and reports are that the inventory levels are stabilizing and that the quantity and quality of firearms and ammunition are readily available throughout the year. All of these portend well for the industry.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Jeff G December 28, 2018, 9:49 am

    Pat, Your article brings such joy during the holidays and I thank you and all of your well wishers with the same mind set. With your stats and looking back around 2013, 2014 the ammunition market was scarce in some calibers and also weapons and clips for high capacity guns. From that time forward the gun companies have set sights on, building better,consumer wanted guns for hunting, target shooting and there other types of shooting. In which, I note, has becoming more popular every day. I have the love and the right to own and purchase firearms weather a pistol, rifle, semi auto or other. I have abided by all federal rules and laws at time. Needless to say I have had to wait for a pistol or a rifle (bolt action) even after buying several hundred guns. I must also say I have the Federal/ATF Upin card, If you know what this is, the card which allows you to purchase a firearm at a dealer and leave with it in hand. There are times I have not been able to take the gun for what ever reason, I do not know why? And now you want CREDIT CARDS checked on gun sales are you really right in the head. How many defenses must we have to purchase a gun in our country and or government . We have enough at this point, I feel to many laws are set already, for use that obey them. So is it your thought to now have a CREDIT CARD, FEDERAL AGENT AT EACH STORE,TO CHECK YOUR ID OR MASTER PLAN OUT, WITH ALL GUN, CREDIT CARD PURCHASERS. Since who is to say, that person could just walk out the door and be the next for buying a gun with his CREDIT CARD ?? After being checked by your FED CARD SYSTEM. You really need to think about this for a long while before having another great gun idea. Are you up for some literary award or just slicing a piece of pie to give to fed so you can eat the rest of that pie for your self. Weather you try to get clearance, amended method about our CREDIT CARDS, or PERHAPS YOURS ?

  • Eugene C. December 7, 2018, 7:41 pm

    It just befuddles me beyond comprehension, that the greens

    the liberals and progressives— would want me to just stand there,
    helpless in the face or muggers, thugs, rapists, and be harmed—

    I live in California and when I applied for CCA ,
    the sheriff said to me— No way, not gonna happen–
    go home and take your chances—

    I confess, I don’t understand their logic
    or better– lack of logic

    • DaveH December 8, 2018, 9:43 pm

      I’m sure it would be difficult for most people to just pick up and move to friendlier territory where rights are not trampled on. But, quite honestly, I think I would consider that in your situation unless you have the possibility of having the idiot sheriff’s decision overturned, which I hope you will try to have done.

  • DaveH December 7, 2018, 11:29 am

    Once again, there is critical missing info regarding firearm sales. In GA, and many other states, there is no NICS check performed for holders of a weapons carry license. While a purchaser is required to fill out a form 4473 to purchase a firearm from an FFL dealer, the information on the form is not entered into NICS and the form simply is retained by the dealer as part of their A&D log and the buyer leaves with the firearm. I have worked at the gun counter of a major retailer for over six years and have seen license holders move from a “few” to “many”, if not most purchasers. These licenses are good for five years. Adjusting NICS numbers by removing those used for background checks to receive a carry license does not adjust for sales to current license holders. Therefore, using NICS checks as a proxy for firearm sales has become increasingly inaccurate over the years.

  • Lars December 7, 2018, 9:24 am

    I\’m curious about ratio of purchase complete to purchase denied.

    • DaveH December 7, 2018, 11:52 am

      Based on my experience working in gun sales at a major FFL dealer the percent of denials resulting from NICS checks is very low, probably two percent or less. This is probably true because most people who are ineligible to purchase a firearm do not attempt to purchase through a dealer, or sometimes attempt to illegally use a “straw buyer”.

  • shrugger December 7, 2018, 9:17 am

    I went the Polymer80 route this year. So there’s the drop for ya. =P

  • joefoam December 7, 2018, 8:52 am

    Even I can see a trend in the graphs. Gun sales are rising. My only hope is that it is new gun owners not existing owners adding to their collections. If it’s new owners we will have more support for pro gun legislation.

  • Stu December 7, 2018, 7:47 am

    I for one, didn’t feel pressed to buy another gun this holiday season because I felt my ability to own a gun was not under as much threat from our current President as it has been in the past. I built up a nice collection in the Obama years.

    • MagnumOpUS December 7, 2018, 9:09 am

      Dang straight, Brother!

  • Larry Hasbro December 7, 2018, 7:36 am

    All these new or already gun owners buying another weapon arent guving gun rights groups mych suppirt againt tge anti gun libbyists. We will lose our 2nd A. Rughts unless we all suppirt our cause..

  • Pat December 7, 2018, 5:11 am

    Is there anyone in America who wants a gun, has the money to buy it, and is not constrained by federal or State law, who doesn’t already own one or more?

    One of the attractions, to me, of firearms is their durability compared to a lot of other consumer products. Practically no one drives a hundred year old car on a regular basis, or listens to a hundred year old radio. But hundred year old guns are commonplace and still reliable.

    I am wondering what is driving these massive sales into what should be a saturated market.

    • DaveH December 7, 2018, 12:21 pm

      That’s an interesting observation, Pat. Using myself as an example (which may or may not be valid!), I own many older hand-me-down family guns that are just as you describe; very old but still reliable. But I have also added many guns to my collection for a number of reasons which include: new and useful calibers, different actions such as semi-autos, the seemingly preferred use of semi-auto pistols over revolvers along with higher capacity magazine’s, and what seems to be many newer and improved platforms such as AR’s, precision rifles, target models, improved triggers, stocks, recoil management and a host of other desirable characteristics. So, just like the car I drove when I was young, it was nice, but it just doesn’t have all the features I have grown to rely upon. Like most things, manufacturers are constantly working to keep us interested and buying! By the way, the older guns that I have are some of my most treasured possessions, not because of their value but because of the memories associated with them.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend