WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—Kids are not only experiencing cuts at school due to the bad economy, but 1.96 million parents decided against a bike purchase for them through November.
Imports of kids' 20 and 24-inch bikes are off more than 20 percent, and sidewalk bikes are down 10 percent—together suppliers imported 1.96 fewer juvenile bikes.
Overall, imports are down 3.2 million units through last November, according to the Department of Commerce import statistics, a drop of 18 percent over 2008. Dollar value of those imports is down $227.9 million, which translates to about $127.6 million in profit missing from bike shops.
The only category to hang in is 700c imports, which are down 5,108 units, a drop of less than 1 percent. Mountain and other 26-inch imports are off 1.2 million units, or 25 percent.
The fall in imports through November increased over the end of the third quarter, suggesting December’s numbers could be further off. At the end of September imports of 700c bikes were up 10 percent, but suppliers backed off so strongly that the 10 percent gain was erased in two months. Mountain bikes were down 17 percent in September, but are down eight more percent in November, another category suppliers are shutting down in a hurry.
Given the large drop in juvenile imports mass retailers did not have a good bike season last year. And now with adult categories like 700c and 26-inch shutting down so quickly in the fourth quarter, it appears that the specialty channel’s early optimism was not a good read of the market. So late in the fourth quarter specialty suppliers cut imports to control inventory.