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New RBFF Fly Fishing Mystery Shopper Study provides insights for retailers

By Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) today announced the release of a new mystery shopper study that provides insights for fly fishing retailers. The study shows fly fishing retailers excel over general fishing retailers in certain areas and also identifies opportunities for improvement.

The Retail Customer Experience Assessment: Fly Fishing, also known as the "Fly Fishing Mystery Shopper" Study, reveals fly fishing retail stores score an average 73 percent satisfaction rate for overall customer experience, a more than 10 percent increase over general fishing retail stores. The Fly Fishing Mystery Shopper Study was conducted to assess the current retail environment for beginning and experienced fly anglers, and to identify opportunities for improvement in customer service and fishing license sales.

"Our original mystery shopper study delivered great insights into the retail environment, and this niche report shows more specific and actionable results for an important segment of the fishing industry," said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. "This study should help fly fishing retailers see the incredible potential to improve the retail experience, leading to a more active and engaged customer base that will stay involved in the sport for years to come."

Some key findings from the study include:

  • In an effort to better prepare their customers, store associates asked shoppers to strongly consider taking an introductory fly fishing course before or in addition to the purchase of gear more frequently than general fishing retail stores.
  • Fly fishing retail stores are doing well at identifying the customers' skill level. Seventy two percent of fly fishing retail stores asked questions to determine skill level, compared to only 45 percent of the general fishing retail stores.
  • Customer contact information was collected at only 10 percent of stores included in the study – a key piece of data when retaining and reactivating customers.

RBFF's Mystery Shopper Study targeted big box and independent fly fishing specialty stores in the Northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington), Rockies (Colorado, Utah and Montana), Northeast (Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and New Jersey) and Southeast (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina). Stores were evaluated on first impressions, greetings, shoppers' needs assessments, the overall sales process, closing the sale, product presentation and overall impressions. Shoppers represented all experience levels and consisted of three main customer groups: single females, Hispanics and traditional “non-Hispanic” families.

"As one of AFFTA's topline goals is to provide businesses with the tools needed for success, partnering with RBFF on this report has proved to be a great asset," said AFFTA President Ben Bulis. "The study provides a great overall grade of 73 percent for fly fishing retail stores, but also highlights areas for potential improvement."

The Fly Fishing Mystery Shopper Study identifies general recommendations to guide RBFF and its stakeholders in improving the overall retail customer experience. The full study, as well as the original, general boating and fishing retail Mystery Shopper Study, is available online in the Take Me Fishing Resource Center.

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