Current Shooting Market
With the current economy very sluggish, it would be logical to think that luxury products would be hit first as the economy struggles to grow. Surprisingly in our Sporting Agency, we have not seen this to date. The clients who are currently buying shooting have done so in previous years and we also picking up new ones as well. Admittedly, the market has taken a slight backwards turn but it definitely is not yet in decline.Â Who knows whether that will be the case next year.
Most shoots across the country are finding early season shooting hard to sell. This is due to a couple of factors; firstly the economy. People are keeping their pheasant and grouse shooting days but those extra partridge days, which tended to fly off the shelf when the economy was very good are the first ones which people drop when the going gets tough. Secondly the influx of availability of grouse shooting which has been excellent over the last 2-3 years, has meant that many sportsmen have turned their early shooting attention to these wild and exciting species â€“ which can in abundant years be bought relatively cheaply in late September, October and even November.
Most good pheasant shoots are finding that they are at least 85-90% full for the coming season, with only a handful of days available at certain times of the year. Mostly the availability is in the early season (October), with the majority of shoots close to capacity in November, December and January.
We have noticed a decline in the 400 bird plus days taken, with most teams now opting for a 300 day or even 250 birds. This is bad news for the shoots as fixed costs remain the same pretty well whatever the size of day. Therefore there is less â€œprofitâ€ from a small day to go towards the end of year figures, which we can assure you is on a very very thin line between profit and loss!
The industry trend at the moment seems to be that the closer to London, the more popular the shoot is unless it has excellent quality where people are prepared to travel from far and wide to get to it. The popularity of the 250-300 bird days in November within a 2-3 hour drive off London is still increasing.
This is probably the hardest market to analyze as the demand is nearly always dictated by supply and secondly price. We have seen over the past 5 years consistently high numbers of grouse with the market strong for early season days, although with some moors now producing more grouse than they can easily sell, or sell at full prices, this is driving down the price and in some cases allowing fixed priced days with bumper bags. This may sound great, but in a poor year will these estates still do the same deal when it is likely that people with be shooting under the bag and not as has happened recently over the bag. Instead of their grouse shooting looking quite cheap, it could then look very dear.
Because the current grouse boom has lasted for 3-4 years, many people have got into the habit of waiting for last minute days at very good prices. Next year this may all change if grouse numbers are much less and only the early booker will be able to secure the day or days they want.
The sporting market has stayed strong in these troubled economic times although we are seeing a shift in what days people take and the size of days. This will in the end have an influence on the practices which shoots adopt including possibly reducing further or cutting out early season partridge shooting programmes and concentrating in the main, on pheasants. With the decline in overages the release programmes will also be hit, which will have an effect on Game Farmers and the related shooting industries.
If you imagine the shooting market as a balloon, currently it is not growing or even declining, but is changing shape and possibly colour!