WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN)—Imports of bicycles through September total 11.624 million units, down 2.093 million units over last year, according to the U. S. Department of Commerce import data released this week. Imports of 700c road and hybrid bikes bucked the trend, increasing 10 percent.
The drop off in kids' bike imports continues unabated, 20- and 24-inch bikes are down over 20 percent this year. With the recession squeezing discretionary spending one would expect sidewalk bikes to be as hard hit as the others kids' categories, but imports of the small wheel bikes are only down 8 percent.
The average unit value is down across all categories 3 percent as cheaper raw material prices lower production costs. The lone exception is 700c imports, which saw a $9 price increase to $278 a unit.
Tawian’s exports to the U.S. have not been as hard hit as China’s, and are only down 5 percent for the year. Taiwan’s loss of kids' bike business was mostly compensated by its 29 percent increase in 700c exports.
The optimism of suppliers bringing in more and more 700c bikes left them with more and more inventory in June, the last month the Bicycle Products Supplier Association (BPSA) reported its inventory levels. So whatever suppliers saw in the market stimulating 700c sales turned out wrong. Whether 700c imports found customers or languish in inventory since June awaits BPSA’s third quarter report.
With Shimano lowering its fourth quarter forecast, and Giant posting a 31 percent drop for its October on October sales, there is little to suggest bicycle imports will recover ground as the year winds down.