MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN) — Supplier sales were down double digits through the first quarter as unseasonably cold and snowy weather continued to hammer many parts of the country in March, according to the BPSA Topline for Cycling RetailTRAK from Leisure Trends released Tuesday.
In March, supplier sell-in to IBDs was down 15.5 percent in dollars and 22 percent in units compared with an unseasonably warm March 2012. That continued the downward trend in sales in the first quarter, with supplier sales down 13 percent in dollars and 19.5 percent in units through March compared with last year.
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All categories were down in March except for dual-suspension 29-inch mountain bikes, which were up 21 percent in dollars and 58 percent in units.
Preliminary March sell-through data at retail indicated that particularly difficult comparisons with last year and cold weather continued to negatively affect early season sales. Compared with March 2012, IBD dollars fell 23 percent for the month.
But this is not the time to panic, said Michael Forte, director of operations for Felt Bicycles, speaking on an industry statistics panel at the Bicycle Leadership Conference last week.
“Weather is affecting things on a regional basis. There is no reason to suspect we’re going to go backwards,” he said, referencing historic data. “It’s actually the slowest start since 2010. But if you look at full-year sales, 2010 — the year with worst start — was the best year of the past three years. There is a chance to make this up. All is not lost because of a slow January and February.”
“You don’t have to panic because you know we’re going to sell between 2.5 and 2.6 million units,” joked Chris Speyer, chief operating officer of Accell North America, referencing historically consistent industry sales numbers. Last year, suppliers sold just shy of 2.6 million bicycles.
Still, Speyer noted that inventory is a concern. The latest numbers for March show that suppliers are sitting on inventory up 40 percent in dollars and 46 percent in units compared with the same month last year.
“In 2013 we all know there’s been a few challenging months, and I think we’re into a period of inventory build. One of the stories we’re going to be watching is the inventory number, which will be really crucial in terms of planning,” said Speyer.
Speyer said 85 percent of companies currently participate in the BPSA program, but that is still not enough to get comprehensive data. He urged companies that are not reporting, particularly in the underrepresented cruiser and BMX categories, to get involved.
“With the planning we have to do in this business, how we can not participate to plan our business is a total mystery to me,” Speyer said.