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Leisure Trends: 2013 will finish down; focus on growth categories to rebound on units

Published September 13, 2013

BOULDER, CO (BRAIN) — As Leisure Trends Group broadcast its 2013 Pre-Interbike Sales Trends webinar live from a soggy and flooded Boulder, Colo., the topic of weather was impossible to ignore.  

While 2012 was the year of much sun and no rain across the majority of the country, 2013 is shaping up to be the exact opposite with almost everywhere in the nation seeing below average temperatures and above average precipitation. 

Weather has been a major factor in how 2013 sales have shaped up so far, but Leisure Trends said during the webinar that since Mother Nature’s damage has already been done, it’s time to shift the focus. The big questions posed by Leisure Trend’s JJ Rudman, the webinar host, were these: Can we rebound on units, and where will we end up on dollars at the year’s close?

According to Leisure Trends, the hope for a unit rebound this year lies in focusing on growth categories, like lighting, action cameras and lower-priced mountain bikes. “I can’t say it enough,” said Rudman. “The potential for lower-priced MTBs is strong—both in getting people going into the IBD door rather than the mass merchant store, and in upping units sold.” 

According to BPSA Cycling Topline RetailTrak data collected from more than 400 IBDs, the profitability of the lower-priced MTB—in the $300 to $500 range—was the best of any price point in the category. 

And most of the bikes sold at this price point were 26-inch models. “Don’t start not carrying those lower-priced 26-inch MTBs,” said Rudman. “Despite the fact that 29ers are coming down in price, there is still a lot of potential in the 26-inch $300 to $500 entry-level MTB category.”

Rudman also delved into the great mountain bike wheel size puzzle—another topic that, given the proliferation and reality of a third wheel size hitting the market, couldn’t be ignored. 

For the remainder of 2013 and up to next summer, Leisure Trends predicts that the 27.5-inch wheel may be slower to adopt than the industry anticipates and would like. Rudman said that this is due to the fact that 29ers—which have been gaining market share in recent months—have a higher inventory in the $1- to $3,000 price point.

But in the mid-term, one to three years, Leisure Trends predicts that 29ers, and to a lesser extent 26-inch bikes, will lose share to 27.5-inch models. “Twenty-niners and 27.5-inch bikes are in direct competition with each other,” said Rudman. “And because many 26-inch models have already been displaced by the 29er, the only real chance for the 27.5-inch wheel to do that is in the long-travel DH bike category, which is still largely 26-inch.” 

Finally, in the long term, Leisure Trends anticipates that most 26-inch bikes will fade away. “When economies of scale take over and lower-priced 29ers and 27.5-inch bikes come to market, we’re likely to see the small wheel become the bottom of the food chain,” said Rudman. 

To end on a positive note and address the final burning question: Will we be up in dollars? That’s the good news for 2013: Leisure Trends predicts that this year will come in second only to 2010 in dollars, as overall sales are still following a positive growth trajectory.  

The webinar can be viewed in its entirety online at gotomeeting.com.

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