“The next six months are the most important ever for tackle shops - it’s do or die.”
That’s the prediction of one of the most respected figures in the fishing industry, who says that shops have until November to make enough money to survive next winter, as it emerged that sales in many small and medium-sized outlets have continued to slump in 2010.
Steve Sanders, co-owner of KC Angling, told Angling Times that his own sales are down 50 per cent on last year after the quietest period the Sutton, Surrey shop has ever seen.
The news comes just weeks after the Environment Agency revealed that sales of rod licences had declined by seven per cent on the same time last year, confirming Steve’s theory that people have simply got out of the habit of going fishing.
“Everybody in the trade I’ve spoken to has said the same thing - it’s been hopeless for months,” said Steve.
“I’m concerned because this is usually a really busy shop, not just in summer, but all year round. One thing the Government could do to help things for businesses generally is to extend British summer time by changing the clocks to European summer time ¬ that way it would be light enough for anglers to fish in the evenings right up until late September,” said Steve.
He can only hope that the weather is good and the rivers are fishable come June 16, thoughts echoed by former Essex County star Richard Taylor, of Medway Tackle in Tonbridge, Kent, who said that he expected all shops to be at least 15 per cent to 20 per cent down.
“If not, I’d like to know what they’re doing! Easter was two weeks early, plus every bank holiday has been cold and wet. Then we’ve got the football coming up! Nothing’s going right for shops this year and reps from tackle companies are reporting it’s still slow. We need a long, hot summer to make the most of before the frosts arrive,” said Richard.
Chapmans Angling has superstores in Scunthorpe and Hull and general manager Mark Wilkinson thinks that if the river closed season was abolished, the fishing tackle trade would benefit hugely.
“Shops need all the help they can get as the weather is so diverse now ¬ a couple of weeks ago I was scraping ice off the car, then the week after it was 28 degrees! How can you justify a fixed closed season when you don’t know what the weather is going to be like?” asks Mark.
“The bigger shops are efficient and have better buying power, while those small shops offering personal service in a good catchment should be okay.
“It’s the middle-of-the-road shops with a few staff and too much stock which are likely to be the casualties in this tough period,” he predicted.