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North Korean Tensions Are Spurring Doomsday Survival-Goods Sales

August 13, 2017, 6:36 PM UTC

Emergency preparedness and survival products are seeing a rise in sales and interest as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea mount. Though information is still anecdotal, several retailers speaking to the New York Times say they’ve seen customers stocking up on emergency food supplies and other survival gear. Sales at the Emergency Essentials retail chain in Utah, for instance, were more than double their usual amount in the days after President Trump’s “fire and fury” comments last Tuesday.

Google searches for terms including “prepper” and “survivalism” have also risen significantly over the last week. But they’re still well below all-time highs that came after the 2012 Presidential election win by Barack Obama, and not all preparedness retailers speaking to the Times have seen sales rise.

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Obama’s election and re-election also triggered a sharp rise in gun sales. That’s partly because of fears that Obama would push through tougher gun control laws. But the rise in survivalism was also fueled by right-wing conspiracy theories, which sellers said had receded somewhat by 2013.

But the usual buyers of dehydrated food and camp stoves have much more faith in the Commander in Chief than they did his predecessor—a recent poll puts the President’s approval rating among Republicans as high as 82%. With conservative politics such a major driver of the preparedness market, and despite fears over North Korea, the Trump presidency could wind up offering modest growth for the industry.

Responses to both North Korea’s tests and Trump’s bellicose language have been tepid more broadly. U.S. stock markets, usually hypersensitive to rumors of global war, dropped only 0.2% on the day of Trump’s statements.