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Wholesale bike sales flat as supplier inventory remains bloated in the first quarter

Published April 28, 2016

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Supplier sales to U.S. retailers from January through March showed no improvement over the same period a year earlier, in part contributing to a 40 percent jump in supplier inventory levels at the end of March, according to the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association. 

The lack of sales growth over last year is worrying in light of better weather conditions in much of the country this year. The Upper Midwest and Northeast were slammed with heavy snows in early 2015 but saw better conditions this year. However, the BPSA figures show that sales to retailers in January and February still lagged, though March wholesale sales showed a 6 percent improvement over 2015.

Suppliers are seeing slow road and cruiser shipments at the start of the year, with road bike sales falling 9 percent overall. But mountain bike shipments are up 13 percent, and hybrid and commuter are up 16 percent.

On the inventory side, suppliers were holding more than twice the number 27.5-inch full-suspension bikes, tandems and commuter bikes than they were at the end of March last year. Inventories of comfort, high-end road and triathlon bikes, and kids' bikes also are high.   

The BPSA figures came out the same week as a notable quarterly report from Shimano, which recorded a 16 percent drop in global bike product sales in the first quarter. 

Shimano did not break out sales by region but did note that in North America the winter was milder this year, saying that North American sales were “buoyant.”

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