BOULDER, CO (BRAIN) — Below-normal temperatures and the 10th largest March snow coverage on record sent IBD sales into a deep freeze compared with an unusually warm and record-setting March last year, according to March retail sell-through data from Leisure Trends Group.
All retail merchandise sales in March totaled $247 million, a significant 23 percent drop. Units fell a near equal 24 percent, while average retail-selling prices eked out a modest 1 percent gain.
Greg Shoenfeld, retail relations manager for Leisure Trends Group, attributed this year’s decline in bicycle retail sales primarily to less-than-favorable conditions in the early season and a comparison with Q1 2012, which was the exact opposite in terms of weather.
“In the limited areas where weather has been favorable, sales have increased. Even in the areas where sales have declined year to date, when forecasts have called for good conditions, there have been sales spikes,” said Shoenfeld.
“When you look at regions where stores are doing better, all you have to do is pull up historic weather maps, and it jibes completely. If weather is moderately warm and dry they’re doing well, but everyone else is down. So far the losers have been beating the winners,” he added, citing historic cold and snowy weather in the Southeast, the Rockies and throughout the Midwest.
Bicycle sales declined 32 percent as 160,000 units rolled out IBD doors this March, nearly 76,000 fewer than last year. Bicycle dollars, down 25 percent, reached $129 million this March as the average bike sold for $807, an 11 percent increase. Nearly all major bike categories posted double-digit unit and dollar losses, except for 29ers. The larger-wheeled mountain bike’s momentum carried it up and over another difficult month to total $24 million, a solid 12 percent more than March 2012. Twenty-six-inch models, however, dropped 44 percent to settle at $14 million.
As with bikes, nearly every merchandise category posted March losses. Apparel shed 27 percent to total $11 million, aftermarket parts fell 19 percent to $44 million and aftermarket accessories dropped 22 percent to $44 million. The lone bright spot in merchandise sales proved to be action cameras and action camera accessories, up 91 percent to $6 million.
Leisure Trends Group has not yet tallied April retail sell-through numbers, but Shoenfeld said early indications are that sales moderated compared with the steep declines seen in March. With Q1 representing just 17 percent of the average annual sales in the cycling industry, retailers still have time to close the gap.
“It’ll be interesting to see where the chips fall in April. It is so variable right now, it’s hard to say whether it’s going to be up or down. My inclination is it’ll be up low single digits, but it could swing the other way,” Shoenfeld said.