Panic buying goes beyond toilet paper—gun and ammo sales are spiking too

March 18, 2020, 1:07 AM UTC

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U.S. sales of guns and ammunition have increased during the coronavirus outbreak as more people, including many first-time gun owners, are fearing unrest and purchasing protection.

“When people become scared in situations like this they buy lots of food, toilet paper, water, and for some reason, firearms,” Chris Lajoie, general manager of Second Amendment Sports in Bakersfield, Calif. told Fortune. “We see it a lot when firearms are threatened, but in a situation like this, they are buying because they truly want to make sure they can protect themselves.”

Lajoie said many of the customers who visited his store over the past few days were first-time gun owners. They aren’t looking for hunting rifles, he added, they’re buying handguns.

“For some reason, they are picking up on the household names and buying Glock and Smith & Wesson,” Lajoie said.

The store now has a limit of two boxes of 9mm rounds per customer per day to help ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to buy the ammunition they need for their handguns.

Second Amendment is far from the only gun shop having a run on the products., an online ammunition dealer, said that for the three-week period ending March 15 over the same time period immediately prior, revenue increased 309%, transactions jumped 222%, and there was a 78% bump in the conversion rate of site browsers to buyers.

Instead of the same day shipping the company usually offers, now needs two to three days to pack and ship orders. The company has seen the biggest sales spikes in Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York, Georgia, and North Carolina.

And Charlotte, N.C.-based Hyatt Guns, which bills itself as “America’s biggest gun shop” has seen demand increase “fourfold,” according to owner Larry Hyatt.

The store, which is housed in a giant warehouse, had an increase in customers beginning last Friday and through the weekend. Hyatt said demand is still strong, but started to slow down on Tuesday.

“Ammunition and self defense guns are what’s selling. It’s not hunting or target shooting. It’s self protection,” he told Fortune.

He said his customers over the past few days “are a change in the usual demographic” of people who visit his store. They’re women, senior citizens, and first time owners who want protection.

Like Second Amendment Sports, Hyatt has placed a limit on the sale of shells to two boxes per visit. He said the store is selling out of popular ammunition and he’s worried how long it will take to replenish his inventory.

“We are completely out of 40 caliber ammo, which is very popular, and certain others we are really low on. We have a lot of product in transit that will arrive over the next few days but after that is a real problem because the warehouses are emptied,” he said. “Even if the panic buying stops, it will still take 30 days or so to get more back on our shelves.”

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