SCOTTSDALE, AZ (BRAIN)—While much of the country is still buried under drifts of snow, riders on the first day of the Phoenix Dealer Tour yesterday experienced crisp but sunny weather. Such ideal winter riding conditions illustrate why the winter months equate to summer sales for retailers in this hot desert climate.
Retailers reported that Phoenix is a strong year-round market, with sales concentrated in the tourist-heavy winter months. But dealers indicated it can be a challenge getting product in the midst of their prime selling season when the rest of the industry is still prepping for the typical spring start to the selling cycle.
“We run a reverse season—our summer is winter,” said Tim Gillis, who purchased Bicycle Showcase in April 2008. He said its sales are about 30 percent lower in the summer months compared to the rest of the year. August—typically a strong sales month for retailers nationwide—is the store’s worst sales month, when heat and humidity crank up in the valley. When the thermometer hits 115 degrees, cycling stops, he said, adding that hardcore riders go out at 5:30 a.m. to beat the heat.
At Landis Cyclery, sales are year-round, according to Bob Landis, a third-generation co-owner of the business his grandfather started in 1912. Landis said March and April are typically its best sales months, but its four stores in the Phoenix area are busy throughout the year. “I think we end up selling about the same number of bikes, there’s just no downtime,” he said, comparing his stores to those in a seasonal market. A Trek and Specialized dealer, Landis said he likes the flexible buying Trek offers and relies on them to inventory bikes. Landis said its size gives it priority on bikes when it needs them, but added it’s often still tough to get a hold of bikes in the prime winter months. “They need to make bikes available to me when I know they are going to sell,” he said.
Markus Zimmer, co-owner of Bicycle Ranch, agreed that manufacturers should make product available earlier for the sun-belt states, where cyclists are purchasing new bikes during the winter riding season. “Manufacturers can make bikes available based on location. We should get bumped to the front,” said Zimmer, a former banker who purchased Bicycle Ranch with his business partner Andy Peshek in September 2008. He said it’s a particular issue with winter apparel that arrives too late. “Stuff doesn’t come in until now and it’s winter stuff,” he said.
Contributing to strong winter sales is the influx of Canadian tourists with winter homes in the tony Scottsdale suburb, said Don Eldridge, who owns DNA Cycles with his wife Amber. “Snowbirds buy two bikes—one for here and one for Canada. It’s not uncommon to have two bikes on one swipe of the credit card,” said Eldridge, who got fed up with the motorcycle business and opened his first bike shop in 2003 in Mesa. He opened his second store in Scottsdale in January 2008 as a Specialized concept store. He said sales have been stable over the last year in Scottsdale, where second homeowners haven’t had to alter spending due to the recession. “You show a $5,000 to $6,000 bike and they go, ‘wow, that’s really reasonable.’ The guys spending that on a bike don’t have to put that money together.”
For more on the dealer visits and riding in Scottsdale, visit the BRAIN Blog.
Photo of Bicycle Ranch by Jake Orness