Brick-and-mortar stores still play primary role as online sporting license sales trend upward

Brick-and-mortar stores still play primary role as online sporting license sales trend upward

While a growing number of sportsmen embrace the availability and convenience of buying hunting and fishing licenses online, the longstanding tradition of standing in line at a local bait and tackle or sporting shop is alive and well. In fact, even as online purchasing trends continue to climb, the majority of licenses are still purchased in brick-and-mortar stores according to recent surveys conducted by and

For hunters, the practice of purchasing licenses online has grown 12 percent from what was reported in 2011, the first year asked the question. In that same time frame, sales at local retail locations have dropped only two percent. So what locations have lost out as online purchases climb? License purchases at government offices and at "other" locations not specified in the survey have each dropped five percent in that same time period.

On the fishing front, online license purchases have climbed 14 percent since 2011 with retailers taking a bigger hit in license sales from their angling customers than from hunters with 11 percent fewer sportsman buying fishing licenses from retailers. That said, local shops and big box store locations still account for half of total fishing license sales. In that same time, government offices are selling one percent fewer licenses and "other" locations are selling four percent less.

Southwick Associates is working with state agencies to help redesign their licenses and set better prices that boost agency revenues and provide angler and hunters with better license options.

"Online license sales will naturally continue to grow as more and more hunters and anglers take advantage of the convenience technology offers," says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at, and "But for local retailers and even larger chains that sell sporting licenses the opportunity to make additional sales of products that appeal to or are needed by hunters and anglers when they visit those locations to buy a license is still huge and will likely continue to be for some time."

To help continually improve, protect and advance hunting, shooting and fishing, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the bi-monthly surveys at, and Every other month, participants who complete the surveys are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.

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