BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Wholesale bike sales were down 5.7 percent in 2016 through May, according to the most recent report from the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association. The trend was not promising, either, as sales in May were down 8.4 percent from a year earlier.
The industry also continues to struggle with inventory at the wholesale level. Suppliers held 19.7 percent more bike inventory, in dollars, at the end of last month compared to a year earlier. In units, supplier inventory was up 18.9 percent. At least it's an improvement over inventory levels at the end of last year, which were up 44 percent over the prior year.
26-inch/fat bike inventory is up 107 percent, while sales in that subcategory were down 28.3 percent YTD.
Year to date, wholesale sales in the largest bike categories were all down: Mountain bike sales were down 4.6 percent and road bike sales were down 10.4 percent.
Subcategories showed wildly different results as retailers and suppliers struggle to predict the next consumer taste shift. Sales of full-suspension 27.5-inch bikes — the largest MTB subcategory — were up 19 percent, while sales of 29er full-suspension bikes were down 22 percent. In the road bike world, the largest subcategories — performance men's bikes and sport men's bikes — were each down, by 2.1 and 28.6 percent, respectively. But the respective subcategories for women, while much smaller, were each up, by 6.4 and 8.6 percent.
Year to date, youth bike sales were down 3.3 percent, transit/fitness bikes were down 3.2 percent, lifestyle/leisure down 16.7 percent, and BMX down 1.1 percent.
On the upside, e-bike sales were up 68 percent through May and up 165 percent in the month of May. On a dollar basis, however, e-bike sales are still a small part of the market, making up 3 percent of the total size of the wholesale bike market tracked by the BPSA through May.
On the inventory front, the industry for the most part seems to be preparing well for the future, with increases in inventory of 27.5-inch full-suspension and 27.5-inch front-suspension bikes, as befits current trends. Inventory of less popular mountain bikes is, appropriately, down.
One outlier: the unsuspended 26-inch/fat bike subcategory, where inventory is up a whopping 107 percent over last year. Sales in that subcategory were down 4.4 percent in May and 28.3 percent YTD.
All road subcategories showed an increase in inventory, led by the "other" road subcategory, which was up 58.6 percent. Inventory for the largest road subcategory, performance men's bikes, was up 19.8 percent.