Cabela’s benefits from gun sales; Dick’s suffers

CabelasLogoHere’s an industry story that ought to warm the cockles of your heart: outdoor-sports chain Cabela’s has benefited from the run on guns and ammo, but they’ve also instilled great loyalty in their customers. Result? Confounded industry analysts and soaring stock values. According to a newspaper based near their captive credit-card bank, the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal-Star:

Cabela’s Inc. stock closed up more than 16 percent, among leading gainers on the New York Stock Exchange, and hit a 52-week high Thursday after reporting strong financial results above the market’s and the company’s expectations.

Sales of guns and ammunition were the biggest part of gains at stores open at least a year, as Congress continues to consider tighter controls since the Newtown shooting tragedy.  Comparable store sales rose 24.0 percent, but excluding guns and ammunition, 9 percent.

Nine percent year over year is great for retail (especially premium retail, in this long-tailed recession), so Cabela’s leaders are clearly doing something right. But part of what they’re doing right, clearly, is still selling their customers the guns and ammo that they want. Naturally some of those customers don’t just buy guns and ammo, but while they’re in Cabela’s, take care of some of their other outdoor-sports needs.

dicks-sporting-goods-logoEat your heart out, Dick’s. It never pays to be a Dick. Especially not to your loyal customers. This is something that management at Cabela’s clearly understands. And Dick’s, equally clearly, doesn’t. The militantly anti-gun chain FFL (yeah, they’re rocking some cognitive dissonance, we can hear the cognitive tritones) had a crummy fourth quarter. They blamed Lance Armstrong (seriously). Their same-store metric, depending on how you measure it, was a feeble +1.2% or an appalling -2.2% year-over-year — numbers far short of Cabela’s that led analysts to downgrade the stock as it slid on the NYSE.

Hey, maybe the lower-Manhattan and DC journalists that praised Dick’s for courage will stop buying their hunting and fishing supplies at Cabela’s and throw a bone to… aw, we can’t even finish that sentence with a straight face. Journalists need to be putting their extra dimes in the layoff fund, not buying outdoor gear.

5 thoughts on “Cabela’s benefits from gun sales; Dick’s suffers

  1. Pingback: Nice! - Gunmart Blog

  2. Suburban

    Duh! Dicks bailed out of the firearm market right at the beginning of what has to be the largest gun sales boom ever in the world. And what did they gain from this colossal business faux pas exactly? Maybe a quarter of the 200 members of “Million Mom March” bought their kids new soccer shin guards at Dicks. That doesn’t hardly make up for the millions of NRA, SAF, and GOA members who may never shop there again.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Dick’s still sells guns, just not modern sporting rifles. Thing is, people don’t seem to be buying them from Dick’s. Everyone else in the industry has inventory, raw material, feedstock, outsourced-parts, and other supply problems. Dick’s has customer problems. Supply problems will ease in time. Customer irritation may, also, but it may be stickier. Thanks for commenting!

  3. matt sparrow

    Here’s the quote from DKS management.

    “In the fourth quarter, we experienced continued momentum in athletic footwear and apparel along with strong sales in hunting that exceeded our expectations. These increases were partially offset by lower-than-anticipated sales in outerwear and cold weather accessories, as well as a significant decline in the fitness category,” said Edward W. Stack, Chairman and CEO.

    Guns sales are robust at DKS.

    You mopes are getting played by the gun makers!

    1. Hognose Post author

      So, people desperate for ammo bought it even from Dick’s, pumping some air into Dick’s hunting segment numbers, but they did the rest of their outdoors shopping elsewhere.

      Like, at Cabela’s. EMS. REI. LL Bean. Any of the other options, instead of a store that doesn’t respect its customers.

      That would certainly jibe with what we’re hearing around here. People only go to Dick’s if nobody else has something. It’s not a hard boycott with a picket line, more like an acted-upon preference.

      I doubt many readers of this blog bought their ammo or guns in places like Dick’s, which instead serves the casual or first-time shooter or hunter. Most of us have tastes in guns that are too exotic, and we use way too much ammo to buy it a box at a time from a local retailer.

      And how and why are we “getting played by the gun makers?” Why do the gun makers care what channel their product finds retail buyers through? Most of them book the gun as “sold” when a jobber or distributor takes delivery. Some of the big-box stores may go direct, but many makers and importers sell to a very short list of jobbers. Dick’s didn’t do anything to irritate gun makers, except for the one manufacturer they broke the contract with. Only gun users.

      You know, their former customers. Customers like my family that they can never get back.

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