With the country currently in the grip of winter when it should only be autumn, this is a crucial time for the angling industry.
We have already lost a marquee name, in Bennetts of Sheffield, and many other less-recognised retailers have gone or are on the very brink. Bennetts is unlikely to be the last ‘big gun’ to fail before next spring rides to the rescue. Mind you, I am not alone in having been warning of this situation for the past 20 years.
I have said similar to this before but in 1980 I could sell a decent pole and the profit paid my wages for a week, at least. A top-line model, such as the Garbo Turbo 12.5m, paid me for a fortnight. Now it wouldn’t pay the window-cleaner in many shops resolved to ‘beat the price’. It is financial suicide but so many companies are prepared to follow the path.
Since profit margins started being eroded on high-ticket items and manufacturers started on a policy of producing ever-cheaper tackle, making a living and thriving in the tackle trade has been very difficult.
Why on Earth anyone would want to sell a useable rod or reel for under £20 when that is about the same price as 25 years ago defeats me, if only because the number of people buying them is obviously down. How much has everything except the cost of major angling items risen? Even when prices on electrical goods such as TVs and games machines drop, a new, must-have model comes along a bit dearer and guess what? The old games do not work in the new consoles.
So that leaves retailers with little, if any, financial ‘fat’ to see them through the lean times to come ¬ and they are coming! Because we have frozen lakes and canals many anglers, even the diehard winter matchmen, will decide to leave the aquatic bingo of ice-breaking and single hookbait fishing and stay indoors.
Of course in the days before closed-season abolition many had extra strings to their bow and would try some beach casting, even a charter boat trip, to fill the winter void but now a fair percentage of anglers fish not only one discipline but one style or venue exclusively. They don’t even have a rod suitable for saltwater, especially in winter.
During the first severe winter I spent in the fishing tackle trade we had the advent of ‘moon boots’ and a good number of shops survived thanks to speculative - but successful and profitable - imports from Italy of ‘apres-ski’ boots. There was some profit made too!
This winter is now going to last for a month longer than usual - can your local shop?
If you’re not fishing, why not use the money you would have spent on bait and tickets to buy some bits that you will need later. Change your reel lines, tie some new hooks. Better still, have a peep at some of the new 2011 tackle ¬ there is some fabulous tackle around and, trust me, it will never be cheaper!