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NPD says IBD bike sales up 6% through August

Published October 20, 2015
The retail tracking service says less traditional bikes are driving sales growth

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (BRAIN) —  The NPD Group says IBD bicycle dollar sales grew 6 percent in the 12 months ended in August, driven in large part by growth in sales of electric, hybrid and mountain bicycles.  

"Bicycle sales typically peak in April and May, but are picking up during the fall and early winter months, which coincides with the fact that cycling, regardless of season, has become embedded in the everyday lives of more consumers," the group said in a press release Tuesday.

"At the same time the number of people traveling to work by bicycle is rising in the U.S., sales of commuter/town and cross/hybrid bikes have experienced healthy dollar growth — by 15 percent and 11 percent, respectively — with women's bikes leading the growth in these categories. Electric bikes have seen the largest sales increase by far, growing by over 100 percent in dollars and over 70 percent in units."

The NPD Group said mountain bike dollar sales were up 10 percent and MTB unit sales up 7 percent, driven by sales of 27.5-inch bikes. 

"Consumers are looking for more versatile products for their sports endeavors, and they are finding the answer in cycling. They are gravitating towards multipurpose bikes which can be used both on and off road," said Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at The NPD Group. "Millennials in particular are driving the trend of forgoing auto purchases and riding bikes to work, which is playing a major role in both the hybrid and electric trend. As millennials become an even greater consumer influence, we can expect these cycling trends to continue."

NPD also said sales of fat bike tires have grown by more than six-times in terms of both dollar and unit sales since 2013.

"The multipurpose capability of fat tires has opened more doors for riders and also for the cycling industry. Cycling has traditionally been viewed as a 'nice weather' activity, but now enthusiasts and commuters alike have the ability to ride comfortably, whether in sunshine or snow, on various levels of tough terrain. For more and more consumers, cycling is becoming an active, year-round investment, and as long as the innovation and trendsetting continues, so will the industry growth," said Powell.

The NPD's report goes counter to some anecdotal reports from across the industry, which indicate that sales were soft in the first half of the year, in part due to rainy weather. A midyear assessment by BRAIN in the Aug. 1 issue predicted flat sales for 2015, although the article noted that supplier shipments to dealers were up 6 percent in dollars during the first five months of 2015 compared with the same period last year. Several major suppliers told BRAIN that consumers appeared to be opting for less-expensive bikes this year.  

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