Customers Want the Newest Gear. So What Happens to the Current-Year Products?

Fourth-quarter product launches force archery retailers to sell discounted equipment in order to meet sales margins during peak season.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Scott Gieseke

The ATA released a best practice statement Oct. 26 on behalf of the ATA Retail Council:

Industry Best Practice Statement

To maximize annual sales and margins for all sectors of the archery and bowhunting industry, the ATA Retail Council, the Archery Range and Retailers Organization (ARRO), and the National Archery Buyers Association (NABA) support the release of new products in January. These groups want manufacturers to know that retailers prefer to buy and take delivery on the latest archery products at the ATA Trade Show, ARRO and NABA shows starting in 2017 for as many products as possible. They want that request to cover all archery products by January 2018.

The statement above is supported by six “Best Practice Rationales.” Each week we’ll review a rationale via Q&As with retailers, and discuss the challenges of introducing products in the fourth quarter. If you missed previous posts in the series, check out Rationale No. 1 here and Rationale No. 2 here.

Best Practice Rationale 3

“Because inventories of current-year products must be sold before year’s end, retailers must often reduce prices and margins to make fourth-quarter sales. This means retailers sacrifice profits on their most important products during what should be the peak sales season.”

Many customers seek accessories to match their bow, but accessory companies don’t know bow specifics (like camo patterns) until product launch. These products may not be available until summer, thus delaying the sale. Photo Credit: ATA


Q. Incoming new products affect the value of current products. Retailers regularly experience this cause-and-effect, but what factors are at play and what do they look like?

Gary Kinard
All Star Archery & Marine Electronics, Dallas, Texas:
There are two groups of customers. One group wants the new bow when it first comes out. That group buys a new bow every year no matter when it comes out. But the other group doesn’t buy in advance anymore. They don’t turn loose of their money till the last minute. They treat a bow purchase like a gun purchase. They go shoot it three times and they’re ready to go. People don’t buy bows in July and August for bow season. They wait till October to buy a bow for October.

But just when we start rolling in October and sales are surging, bow manufacturers dump all this new product in the fourth quarter. Everything in my store is then obsolete and I can’t make money on it. By the time the holidays hit, I am selling discounted equipment. That’s what crushes me.

Randy Phillips
Owner, Archery Headquarters, Chandler, Arizona:
Once a bow manufacturer advertises a new bow, it’s over. Whether he ships one bow to sample or not, impulse buyers want product now. And, because it’s the busiest time of year, I’ve got the highest amount of product in my store. It’s killing dealers, and most dealers don’t really understand how bad it hurts. You not only make less margin because of the stocked bows you have to discount, you also lose sales left and right by trying to anticipate the new-product releases, all in the busiest time of the year.

Introducing new product at the height of your season isn’t a good plan. No other industry does it like the archery industry does it. The marine-electronics industry is a spring/summer seasonal business. Those manufacturers introduce new product in the fall. A lot of boats are put up then, but it gives retailers all winter to get things going till spring, when business starts rolling again in the busy season. Or look at the snow-skiing industry. If you’re a ski resort and it’s ski season, you don’t discount rooms and ski equipment in winter. You do that in midsummer. But manufacturers are forcing us to offer discounts in our peak season.

Q. Is technology and engineering so good it doesn’t take as much time as before to dial in a bow? Does that affect the peak sales season’s timing?

Yes, that adds to the situation. It compounds the buying trends we’re seeing. Customers aren’t buying bows when they want them. They’re buying them when they have to have them. Business has changed greatly the past 15 years, and this industry has not adapted to those changes. The industry is trying to do the same thing the same old way, and they’re expecting a different result and not getting it. Also, dealers haven’t stood up and said this isn’t working.

Q. Bow accessories typically have higher margins, sometimes as high as 50 points. Why not make peace with an ineffective release cycle for bows that doesn’t boost profits but does boost hype and consumer traffic? Wouldn’t that boost bow-accessory sales and higher margins?

Peter Gussie
Midwest Cimmarron Archery, Richmond, Illinois:
Nowadays — at least for us — we’re seeing fewer and fewer sales of high-end bows. Those are the bows that move accessories. Instead, we’re seeing more sales on the low- to midrange bows, which are almost exclusively sold as packages. So now, instead of making up that margin on accessory sales, you’re getting that 20- to 25-point margin on a package bow, and that’s it.

Even after you get the bows in, you sometimes wait on the accessories. When one bow company came out with its new camo bows, it was months before you saw accessories for the bow because the accessory companies didn’t know what the bow was. Nobody had the bow or camo pattern until March or April. So the accessory company couldn’t ship its product until summer. Plenty of guys won’t buy a bow if they can’t buy accessories to match.

There is nothing more frustrating than going through a sale, and then getting to the end and the guy backs out because he can’t get a matching stabilizer. Of course you don’t think of that when the guy comes in. You’re thinking about the bow itself, the innovations, the new features and getting the guy shooting it.

Next week we’ll post the next article of this six-part series to review rationale No. 4 in supporting the ATA Retail Council’s request to release new archery products in January. If you missed earlier installments of the series, check out Rationale No. 1 here and Rationale No. 2 here. If you’d like to weigh in on the best practice statement or, if you’re a retailer and want to share your experiences with product-launch cycles and how they affect your store, comment in the section below or email us at

The Retail Council meets weekly to discuss pressing issues raised during the ATA’s 2016 strategic-planning meeting, including the current product-launch cycles. To learn more or to get involved in the Retail Council, contact the ATA toll-free at (866) 266-2776.

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