Reader John D. Dingell III writes:
Not mentioned in the discussion over firearms sales in America is the overall state of the economy. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis just posted their first estimate of 2017 Q1 GDP growth and it’s anemic, to put it mildly.
It should be noted that Q1 GDP growth is usually the lowest of any quarter due to post Christmas inventory trimming, but 2017 Q1 GDP growth was the lowest since 2014 Q1 (which was a decline). The real softness in the 2017 Q1 GDP print was in personal consumption (PCE).
Sporting goods, including firearms, are in the ‘Other Durable Goods’ category. Ammunition is in ‘Other Nondurable Goods’.
It looks like health care expenses, no doubt helped along by soaring ObamaCare costs, are more than offsetting gains from lower energy and housing costs. The Recreational Goods and Vehicles increase is probably an artifact, reflecting dealers stocking up for what they expect will be a strong summer selling season.
Even though personal consumption reflects goods ultimately sold to individuals, much of the PCE dollar values reported by the BEA is actually supply chain sales.
Recent data prints suggest that 2017 Q1 GDP growth will be revised yet lower and may even go negative. So the jury is still out on a structural decline in firearms and ammunition sales.