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Retailers' crystal ball: We ask IBDs their projections for 2021

Published December 31, 2020
Today: Mike Jacoubowsky, the owner of Chain Reaction in Redwood City, California.

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — As this unforgettable year comes to end, retailers are eager for a little off-season rest, but anxious about the prospects for 2021. Will they have enough supply? Enough workers? Will a soft economy or COVID-19 lockdowns curb demand, or has everyone who ever wanted a bike already got one? 

For a feature in our December magazine, we touched base with 16 retailers to get their take on the 2020 season and their predictions for 2021. We'll be sharing snapshots from those interviews online over the next two weeks.

Mike Jacoubowsky, owner, Chain Reaction, Redwood City, Calif.

2021 sales should end up about 40% above last year, 30% above our prior best year ever. Supply issues as well as staff exhaustion have held capability down. Margins have increased for both bikes and parts because we're not having to compete with discount pricing.

I think we're going to see a mini-crash sometime this winter as back-ordered bikes continue to arrive without customers to snag them up. We have to remain risk-averse to some extent. We have no intention of becoming a warehouse. We're not earning the margins for being both a warehouse and retailer.

I think the holiday season will suffer due to lack of the right inventory. We'll have kids bikes 24" wheel and smaller, but road bikes below $1,500, $600 hybrids in women's step-through and small and medium men's sizes, without those bikes, we're not expecting Christmas to set the world on fire.

We've cut way back on suppliers. Our biggest frustration has been QBP's inability to deal with backorders. We're too busy to hunt things down with different distributors but we’re forced to. It's not fun.

There has never been a time when skilled, trained staff have been more important than today. To some extent I think we're better off being short-staffed, with longer wait times and some lost sales, than having larger staff that isn't doing as good a job.

The lumpy availability of bikes makes mechanic scheduling a nightmare! We don't know what's going to allocate from week to week, but we have to have the ability to build bikes fast when they arrive. You'd think we could be doing repairs in-between, but there’s no place to put them.


Mike Jacoubowsky, owner, Chain Reaction, Redwood City, Calif.
Topics associated with this article: Crystal Ball

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