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29ers, 700c Bikes Show Growth Through April

Published June 29, 2011

BOULDER, CO (BRAIN)—Bike sales were up 7 percent through April, according to Bicycle Product Suppliers Association sell-through data from the Leisure Trends Group (LTG). Most of that growth is coming from road bikes and 29-inch mountain bikes.

The Boulder, Colorado, market research firm shared data from the BPSA’s Topline report as well as its RetailTRAK sell-through data during a webinar led by retail analyst JJ Rudman Tuesday afternoon.

Through April, LTG found that average retail selling prices were up across the board. Bicycle units sold through IBDs were down 2 percent but dollars sold were up 7 percent.

Among the standouts were road bikes, which grew 13 percent in units and 18 percent in dollars through the first four months of the year compared to 2010, Rudman said. In the road segment, sport performance and triathlon bikes are two areas of strong growth, up 14 percent and 53 percent, respectively, in units sold.

All other major bike categories were down in terms of units through April. The same was true for parts, apparel, helmets and shoes—all were down single digits in units.

While BPSA topline data showed mountain bikes as a category down in units through April, 29-inch models—front and full-suspension—saw growth in both unit and dollar sales. The big-wheel category has grown from 9 percent of all mountain bike units sold last year to 22 percent this year. Front suspension 29ers saw unit growth of 142 percent and dollar sales grew by $15 million through April. Full-suspension 29ers grew 118 percent in units and $9 million in dollars.

Rudman said 29-inch models are cannibalizing sales of its smaller wheeled siblings. And females remain an untapped market in this segment with only 3 percent of all 29-inch sales being women’s-specific models.

And while the economy may still be shaky, Rudman said LTG data suggests that consumers are still willing to spend on high-end bikes and accessories. Sales of sport performance road bikes in the $3,000 to $3,500 price points were up 78 percent through April; models ranging from $2,500 to $3,000 were up 17 percent and $2,000 to $2,500 bikes were up 10 percent.

“And almost all price points above $3,500 have grown by double digits,” Rudman said, emphasizing that while these models account for a small volume of total sales at retail, IBDs should still stock one or two of these bikes to provide consumers a good, better, best option.

The same is true of apparel and helmets, with unit growth of 125 percent in apparel priced between $200 and $300 and 491 percent growth in helmets priced between $200 and $300. Shoes priced between $300 and $400 had growth of 187 percent in units through April. “Don’t be afraid to stock a few high-ticket items,” Rudman told retailers who tuned into the webinar, pointing to better margins and faster turns on these accessories compared to bikes.

To listen to the full webinar, go to LTG will post the webinar in its entirety later this week.

—Lynette Carpiet

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