The numbers are in, and Thanksgiving weekend sales fell below last year’s overall figures — except for one class of merchandise: Firearms.
This year, “Total spending was expected to reach $50.9 billion, down from last year’s estimated $57.4 billion,” according to AFP via Yahoo News.
Most Americans would attribute the sluggish sales to a sluggish Obama economy. The National Retail Federation credits “A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts” as a major cause. Overly optimistic?
Neither factor was at play when it came to firearms, however.
While sweaters, scarves, and jewelry remained on retailers’ shelves, guns were flying off the rack at such a mad clip that the federal background check system had trouble keeping up to the demand.
The staggering number of checks — an average of almost three per second, nearly three times the daily average — falls on the shoulders of 600 FBI and contract call center employees who will endure 17-hour workdays in an attempt to complete the background reviews in three business days, as required by law, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.
Indeed, Friday saw the highest number of background checks ever for a Black Friday, and second in history. The highest day on record was December 21, 2012, with more than 177,000 background checks.
“We are averaging three checks per second,” Fischer told CNN Friday. “The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and reutilizing former … employees to serve in NICS during this busy period.”
CNN reported that ten factors can disqualify a purchase:
- Felony conviction
- Arrest warrant
- Documented drug problem
- Mental illness
- Undocumented immigration status
- Dishonorable military discharge
- Renunciation of U.S. citizenship
- Restraining order
- History of domestic violence
- Indictment for any crime punishable by longer than one year of prison.
Retailers claim the spike in sales came with very little prodding on their part. “Our discounts were consistent with our everyday sales,” Bass Pro Shops spokeswoman Tammy Sapp told NBC News. “Many of the manufacturers offered rebates as well.”