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Canadian Tire Expects ‘Flat’ Hunting-Gear Market This Year

TheGunBlog.ca — Canadian Tire Corp., one of the country’s biggest retailers of hunting and shooting supplies and a barometer for the industry, said it expects demand for hunting gear to be “flat” this year.

Even though hunting and sport-shooting account for a small portion of the company’s revenue, no other retailer comes close to having Canadian Tire’s 500 stores across the country. The Toronto-based chain sells firearms at some locations, as well as ammunition, targets, rifle scopes, hunting blinds, trail cameras, camouflage, knives, bows, game decoys and other equipment.

“In general the hunting market is expected to remain flat in 2018,” said Matthew McGuire, who manages the company’s outdoor-recreation business.

An unchanged level of sales for the country as a whole can hide important variations in different activities and regions.

Last year was “very fractured,” Wes Winkel, the president of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, said in November. Retailers in central and eastern Canada were doing well, while floods and fires in Alberta and British Columbia disrupted shooting activities and led to a market slump. Wholesale Sports Canada Ltd., a chain of 12 stores in the western provinces, closed.

Some estimates say hunters and shooters contribute $5 billion to Canada’s economy each year. We spend an average of $1 million a day on guns, ammo, parts and accessories. Residents and visitors also hire hunting guides and buy food, travel, lodging, hunting licences, range memberships, and more.

McGuire said online sales are important, and “providing a wide assortment of product to purchase online is a key strategy moving forward in the hunting category.”

He declined to say why the company stopped selling SKS rifles, other than that Canadian Tire often introduces or retires products as part of a regular product-review process.

McGuire’s comments were relayed by Stephanie Cangelosi, a media spokeswoman, by e-mail on Feb. 6 in response to questions from TheGunBlog.ca.

Canadian Tire and the rest of the firearm industry are preparing for a new import law requiring markings on imported guns, the so-called Firearms Marking Regulations. Successive governments have delayed the policy eight times since it was approved in 2004. The pending law sent the industry into turmoil last year before being deferred until Dec. 1 this year.

“We are working with key partners and manufacturers to come to a resolution that works well for the seller and consumer,” McGuire said.

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