Already, the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a deleterious effect on Wall Street, tanking markets and shaving trillions in value off 401(k) retirement plans, stocks, and other assets.
Over the past week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was nearing the once-unthinkable level of 30,000 before the viral outbreak, dropped to close at 25,864.78 on Friday, off another 256.50 points on the day.
Around the country stores are emptying out; schools are closing here and there; churches and other social public gathering places are being vacated; the airline industry is suffering as people refrain from traveling; various states of emergency have been declared.
In short, though the virus’ spread in the United States has thus far been limited in comparison to the 80,000-plus known cases in China, where the outbreak began, Americans are becoming more and more concerned. And when they do, they generally like to cram their preparations.
That includes buying up and stockpiling ammunition.
According to PRNewswire, even as big box stores like Walmart and Target run out of things like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, masks, and other items, the panic buying is also hitting the ammo industry:
Recent analysis shows that online ammunition retailer, Ammo.com, has seen a significant increase in conversions and sales since February 23, 2020. The company reports that this surge corresponds with the public concern regarding the COVID-19 virus. According to Google Trends, starting on February 23, American interest over time (the site’s measurement matrix) of the term “coronavirus” has quadrupled, increasing from 22 to 100.
That can’t be by accident.
The press release notes further that in comparison to the 11 days before Feb. 23, or the 12th through the 22nd, the next 11 days (Feb. 23 – March 4) saw Ammo.com increase sales and transactions by 68 percent, while the company has experienced a conversion rate increase of 45 percent.
“We know certain things impact ammo sales, mostly political events or economic instability when people feel their rights may end up infringed, but this is our first experience with a virus leading to such a boost in sales.” Alex Horsman, the online ammo sales firm’s marketing manager, said.
“But it makes sense. A lot of our customers like to be prepared. And for many of them, it’s not just facemasks and TheraFlu. It’s knowing that no matter what happens, they can keep themselves and their families safe.” (Related: SHOCK: Leaked documents reveal Wuhan coronavirus infections up to 52 times HIGHER than official Chinese figures.)
Some of the biggest increases include sales of 40 cal ammunition (410 percent); .223 — the ammo used in AR-15 rifles (194 percent); 7.62×39 — most used in AK-47-style rifles (114 percent); 9mm (101 percent); and 12 gauge shotgun shells (95 percent).
Sales increases also varied by state, according to the press release. Purchasers in North Carolina and Georgia led the way with the largest increases (179 percent and 169 percent respectively) followed by Pennsylvania (140 percent) and Texas (128 percent). These were followed by Florida (76 percent); Illinois (67 percent); New York (48 percent); and Ohio (40 percent).
In addition, the company noted that gold has also started to rise in price, which often correlates with an increase in ammunition sales.
Clearly, there is increasing concern about just how severe coronavirus could become. And that’s understandable; right now, though it seems as though the Trump administration has a handle on things, we don’t know a lot about this virus. We really don’t know who’s carrying it (because test kits are in short supply), where it is concentrated, how wide the concentration is, and — importantly — how bad the outbreak will get. Hence the binge buying of ammo.
But let this also serve as a warning: As ammo sales rise and supply chains become even more strained due to the virus-related decreases in global productivity, ammunition shortages are bound to come at some point.