State of the Hunting Industry | April 2010

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Edition 6           A Publication of Hunting Business Marketing        April 2010

The Good News of 2010, But Looming State Deficits

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There seems to be a cautious wave of optimism sweeping the middle class in the US this past month.

Many industries are seeing a return of growth and prosperity. Some companies are growing and expanding their operations, even hiring new employees. When reading news such as this it brings a smile to the face of anyone. It’s positive and it’s encouraging for the future.

However, other news like the pension deficits in most states is troubling.

The public sector is draining the entire American economy of precious resources. This is good for a few folks during the interim short-term while harmful for the majority of Americans in the long-term.

State governments, like the federal government has promised more money than they are currently taking in. The difference with the state governments is they don’t have a federal reserve to print money when they run out. They are required by law to balance budgets.

Taxes are being increased on some states to make up for the differences in tax revenue. This may work in the short-term, but will be detrimental in the long-term.

States have been able to hide some of their shortcomings in the short-term with tricky accounting that plays shell games with the public in a desperate effort to make it through the next elections. The music will eventually stop in this game of musical chairs and those left with no place to sit will be taxpayers and the general public.

Underemployment continues growing in most states and cities around the US.

Folks are saving what they can, but pent up demand that has been building for the past year or so is leading to some consumer spending. Businesses are delighted by this as their sales are increasing over last year; increasing over one of worst years in history.

When the music will stop is anybody’s guess and t he only lifeline folks and businesses will have is savings to weather another storm.

Living a happy life with family and the things you cherish is important so take care of those things.[private_member]

Economic Trends

State Debt Woes Grow Too Big to Camouflage

From New York Times (March 2010):

California, New York and other states are showing many of the same signs of debt overload that recently took Greece to the brink — budgets that will not balance, accounting that masks debt, the use of derivatives to plug holes, and armies of retired public workers who are counting on benefits that are proving harder and harder to pay.

And states are responding in sometimes desperate ways, raising concerns that they, too, could face a debt crisis.

New Hampshire was recently ordered by its State Supreme Court to put back $110 million that it took from a medical malpractice insurance pool to balance its budget. Colorado tried, so far unsuccessfully, to grab a $500 million surplus from Pinnacol Assurance, a state workers’ compensation insurer that was privatized in 2002. It wanted the money for its university system and seems likely to get a lesser amount, perhaps $200 million.

Joshua Rauh, an economist at Northwestern University, and Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago, recently recalculated the value of the 50 states’ pension obligations the way the bond markets value debt. They put the number at $5.17 trillion.

After the $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds was subtracted, there was a gap of $3.23 trillion — more than three times the amount the states owe their bondholders.

“When you see that, you recognize that states are in trouble even more than we recognize,” Mr. Rauh said.

With bond payments and pension contributions consuming big chunks of state budgets, Mr. Rauh said, some states were already falling behind on unsecured debts, like bills from vendors. “Those are debts, too,” he said.

In Illinois, the state comptroller recently said the state was nearly $9 billion behind on its bills to vendors, which he called an “ongoing fiscal disaster.” On Monday, Fitch Ratings downgraded several categories of Illinois’s debt, citing the state’s accounts payable backlog. California had to pay its vendors with i.o.u.’s last year.

“These are the things that can precipitate a crisis,” Mr. Rauh said.

Read the full story State Debt Woes Grow Too Big to Camouflage

Impact on your business

Tricky accounting and other shell games are allowing some states to postpone their inevitable collapse.

In the best case scenario, the states would declare a form of bankruptcy and let the public unions walk without compensation or the state governments would cut spending in other areas to pay for the union pensions and other liabilities – depending on what the citizens prefer in each of the states.

In the worst case and most likely scenario, states will receive the balance of the deficit from the federal government, which will have to borrow and print the money thus removing trillions more from the pockets of taxpayers – a few will prosper in the short-term and everyone will suffer in the long-term.

With commercial real estate struggling as we saw last month in the report and the buildup of unfunded liabilities in the states, the outlook is shaky at best in the general US.

Underemployment Rises to 20.3% in March

From Gallup (March 2010):

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gallup Daily tracking finds that 20.3% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed in March — a slight uptick from the relatively flat January and February numbers.

These results are based on March interviews with more than 20,000 adults in the U.S. workforce, aged 18 and older. Gallup classifies respondents as underemployed if they are unemployed or working part-time but wanting full-time work. Gallup employment data are not seasonally adjusted.

A rise in the percentage of part-timers wanting to work full time (from 9.2% to 9.9%) is responsible for the March increase in underemployment. Unemployment saw a slight, but insignificant, decline in March.

Read the full story Underemployment Rises to 20.3% in March

Impact on your business

The interesting thing about the recent slight upturn in economic perspective has been that unemployment and underemployment have continued to rise; even if at a relatively slow place.

What we know as underemployment today used to be the official unemployment number up until the federal government made the change in the 1990s (in an effort to make the perception better). So when comparing today with the 1930s it’s important to use the underemployment number – this includes those who would like to have better jobs or are dissatisfied with their current jobs.

In the past few months we’ve seen folks revert back to spending. This is a natural reaction to pent up demand that had been subdued for awhile during the recession.

With folks still losing jobs or working at jobs they are not satisfied with it will be difficult for any kind of rebound or sustained recovery.

Economic Confidence Remains Depressed Thus Far in March

From Gallup (March 2010):

PRINCETON, NJ — Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is -31 for the week of March 15-21, continuing a trend of depressed confidence that began three weeks prior.

Consumer Outlook Dimmer Since Late February

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is based on Americans’ answers to two questions — one focusing on views of current economic conditions in the country and the other on the economic outlook. Both measures are in negative territory — meaning that more Americans express negative than positive sentiments on each dimension — and have been since January 2008.

The dampened level of overall economic confidence in March comes exclusively from a drop in economic outlook that began in the final week of February and has since held.

Read the full story Economic Confidence Remains Depressed Thus Far in March

Impact on your business

Confidence appears to remain subdued among Americans.

Most people in the US are smart and they understand that a recovery that saw a great deal of stimulus thrust into Wall Street and the stock market means little for actual fundamental economic recovery. Folks are still losing jobs and over 20% of workers in the US are working at jobs they are not satisfied with whether that is for pay reasons or something similar.

Folks have been spending some of the money they’ve saved for a rainy day over the past 18 months, but this is nothing more than pent up demand.

Americans’ Weekly Spending Hits New High for 2010

From Gallup (March 2010):

PRINCETON, NJ — With stocks at a new high for the year, pent-up demand from the snowstorms of prior weeks, and perhaps the arrival of some tax refunds, Americans’ self-reported spending reached its highest level of the year during the week ending March 14.

Prior to last week, 2010 consumer spending was adhering to the relatively conservative “new normal” established in 2009. The question going forward is whether this new spending represents the beginning of a new, higher level of consumer spending — somewhere between 2008 and 2009 spending levels — or simply a short-term aberration in the “new normal” trend.

Averaging $72 per day last week, consumer spending was up 20% from the prior week ($60) and 31% from the same week a year ago ($55), and at its highest level since the week ending Dec. 20.

Job Creation Not a Factor

If this is the beginning of a new spending trend, it doesn’t appear to have been inspired by job creation. While job market conditions have improved compared to a year ago, most of the change comes from lower percentages of employees reporting that their companies are letting people go; there has been little growth in the percentage saying their companies are hiring.

Read the full story Americans’ Weekly Spending Hits New High for 2010

Impact on your business

Pent up demand from 18 months of not spending much has started hitting the US economy. This is great news for the companies providing quality products and services to folks, but the truth is that incomes are not increasing and people are simply spending a little of the savings they’ve accumulated over the past year or so.

It’s a natural reaction to want to spend a little money; whether it’s for needs or wants it makes people more positive to spend money and enjoy life.

A true recovery cannot occur until the job market improves and folks are able to shrink debt levels and spend actual savings.

Industry News

Successful wolf hunt may not be profitable

From Idaho Reporter (March 2010):

Despite all the notoriety surrounding Idaho’s wolf hunt, it may not be a moneymaker for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), according to a department spokesman.  Ed Mitchell said it’s debatable whether the hunt that led to 186 hunters killing wolves paid for itself.  More than 31,000 hunters bought tags to hunt wolves, which sold for $11.50 to Idaho residents and $186 to out-of-state hunters.

“We need that tag money for our wolf and other big game programs,” Mitchell told  He said the cost of wolf management programs, including tracking and tagging wolves, and the loss of revenues on elk hunting tags due to elk being killed by wolves has offset the more than $400,000 raised from wolf tag sales.  Mitchell said elk herds in several areas of the state have been declining, including the Lolo zone.  “The Lolo’s been studied so thoroughly,” he said, adding that other areas, like the Selway zone, may also have had large depredation.  “We just have more complete science on the Lolo.”  Both the Lolo and Selway zones are located along the Montana-Idaho border.

Read the full story Successful wolf hunt may not be profitable

Impact on your business

State departments will never be able to effectively manage wildlife or land.

Private landowners are the best equipped to handle the duties of managing their own land and the wildlife (property) that lives on their land. The wolf issue for me is not an issue that belongs to the state or it’s populace.

The pilgrims struggled to survive in the new world when their communities were centrally planned. Not until the pilgrims divided up their land into private plots for each person did they succeed and thrive as each person took care of their ‘own’ property.

In Africa, there was an issue with elephants. One country took the centrally planned route to poaching and tried to manage the elephant herd that way. Another country declared that all elephants were the private property of the landowners. The second country now has a thriving elephant population while the first is no better off today than in the past.

Online Trends

Top E-Mail Subject Lines Focus on ‘You’

From eMarketer (March 2010):

Polls show that marketers are aiming for personalization to make their e-mails stand out in recipients’ inboxes, and the rise of social media has made many consumers expect a more personal relationship with brands. And a look at e-mail subject lines suggests marketers are following that lead.

While in November 2008, subjects with “you” and “your” barely beat out “free” offers, usage of “you” to address recipients directly rose by 2009 to appear in more than one-fifth of e-mail subjects. On the flip side, terms such as “free” and “ship” decreased in importance.

Experian’s “2010 Digital Marketer” report said this reflected the growing savvy of marketing e-mail recipients. Consumers now expect free shipping offers, which makes them less of a selling point in e-mail subject lines.

Offers of savings in general, however, remained important, and with good reason. More than one-half of adults said they were likely to open an e-mail containing promotions or coupons, and 30% said they would forward such an e-mail to others, up from 28% in 2008.

Among multichannel retailers, for example, “save,” “off” and “% off” each appeared in about 12% of subject lines. Shopping and classifieds sites saw the highest share of traffic coming from e-mail clicks, compared with other industries, at 9%.

Read the full story Top E-Mail Subject Lines Focus on ‘You’

Impact on your business

Email is important for any successful business today.

There are a few steps in the email process that every business should focus on: 1) Opening 2) Clicking and 3) Buying. Work on getting your customers to open your emails, click you emails, and eventually get them to convert sales or your own version of conversion metrics by improving your email subject lines and content.

Email is being utilized by many successful companies, but there is always room for improvement and studies like the one above help with understanding what people are responding too in the marketplace.

Retail E-Commerce Resumes Double-Digit Growth

From eMarketer (April 2010):

eMarketer forecasts that after two years of subpar growth, 2010 US retail e-commerce sales (excluding travel) will climb to more than $152 billion, up 12.7% year over year. This follows the US Census Bureau’s release showing online sales in Q4 2009 grew by 14.6% over a year earlier—the biggest gain in eight quarters.

“In 2011, growth will go on at the same pace, as the economy continues to recover and consumers loosen their purse strings,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “US Retail E-Commerce Forecast: Room to Grow.”

“But by 2012, e-commerce will resume its pre-recessionary downward growth path because of the inevitable maturation of the online sales channel,” he said. “Still, there is plenty of energy driving e-commerce.”

This year, 162 million people in the US will research products online. Much of this research will lead to in-store purchases. Over 82% of online researchers, or 133 million people, will be online buyers. The percent of online buyers will rise as young Internet users, predisposed to e-commerce, replace older users.

Online travel sales are also set to rise. Sales will total $92.5 billion in 2010, a 4.6% annual increase and a positive development after sales plummeted by 6.7% in 2009. Together, online retail and online travel will equal $244.6 billion in 2010 and grow at a 9% compound annual rate from 2009 to 2014.

Read full story Retail E-Commerce Resumes Double-Digit Growth

Impact on your business

Online retail sales are back to growing, which is a good sign for folks with businesses in the online world.

As mentioned before, some of this is due to pent up demand. Consumers are spending some of the money they have been saving over the past year or so. This is fine and it’s a natural reaction to the negative effects of the recession.

I still see online retail sales growing in the next few years even if overall spending decreases. Online retailing has many advantages and continues to improve in efficiency as well as in the level of value it delivers consumers in the world markets.


There has been some good news in the economy lately…along with some news of reality for the long-term economic outlook.

The back to back stimulus extravaganzas from the last two presidential administrations and congress shoveled loads of cash into the stock market in an effort to benefit a few while the majority suffered in the long-term.

Folks that have continued to contribute to their retirement in 401Ks and in the stock market are a little happier today than they were a year ago since things have recovered significantly since the lows of a year ago.

Will stocks remain at their current level? Will they continue to increase? Will they crash again?

Underemployment, a relaxation of pent up demand, and other economic factors are saying negative things.

Strong businesses will thrive as they always do. Invest in those companies and make sure that you are running one of the successful, unique companies.

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Hunting Business Marketing

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Dayne Shuda

I'm the founder and contributer of Hunting Business Marketing | Tutorials, Tips, and Strategies for your Hunting Business. Check out my articles on Hunting Business Marketing and follow my daily findings on Twitter.

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