What Do the AFFTA Survey Numbers Really Tell Us?


One of the most interesting things to come out of the recent IFTD show in Reno was the release of a survey of retailers by Southwick Associates, Inc. that gave us a clearer statistical picture of the state of the fly fishing market than we’ve had in years.

Angling Trade has taken a closer look at that data, and transposed that to what we think are some clear trends worth highlighting.  Here’s some of what we think the data is really telling us:

Sales by region of the country are 31.5% in the Rockies, 25.5% in the West, 23.7% in the South, 10.9% in the Northeast, and 8.1% in the North Central.  What that tells us:  Everyone who wonders aloud why the trade show never comes to places like New York or Detroit now have their answer:  Three-quarters of the business in the fly world happens west of the Mississippi River and south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Traditional brick and mortar in-store sales are the leading channel, accounting for 83.3% of sales while internet ranked second at 13.3%.  What that tells us:  Yes, specialty dealers are critically important to the life of this industry.  But manufacturers see this number and think the potential for growth rests largely online.  How dealers and manufacturers sort that out in coming years will be the most pressing issue in this industry.

Flies accounted for the most revenue in any product category (though the categories were fairly balanced) at 11% of income nationally.  What that tells us:  If you are truly a “fly” shop, meaning a strong portion of your annual sales are derived from selling flies near a major river, you are in good shape.  If, however, you are in a suburban strip mall, your challenges are far greater, as is the need to diversify.  It’s almost as if we have two different types of fly shops these days.  Shops that are literally fly shops, and fly fishing lifestyle shops.

“Local Guide Services” accounted for $95.5 million in a roughly $750 million market.  What that tells us:  Access is going to remain a critical issue.  Guides are key gatekeepers for this sport, as well as a revenue opportunity.

Sales by fishing type indicated 17.2% was warmwater (bass, carp, etc.), while 72.1 percent was related to trout, (15.8% was in saltwater).  What this tells us:  Unless you are very close to the ocean, or a trout river, if your business model does not include a significant emphasis on carp, you are short-circuiting your own route to success.

Look for a detailed “What the Numbers Tell Us” feature in the next print issue of Angling Trade (and if you have your own interpretations to offer, please E-mail them to [email protected]).


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