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Wholesale bike sales down sharply year-to-date for everything but e-bikes

Published April 2, 2019

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Wholesale bike sales were down in dollars and in units in the first two months this year, compared to the same period last year. 

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Wholesale bike sales can fluctuate over short periods, especially if retailers brought in their preseason bikes earlier in the year, perhaps to avoid the increase in tariff on Chinese bikes and other bike-related products, which was due to take place March 1, but has now been delayed indefinitely.

The sharp decline affected all bike categories except e-bikes, according to the latest Bicycle Product Suppliers Association Sell-in Report. The report tracks wholesale sales of bikes to IBDs by BPSA members.

The trend continues: BPSA members are selling fewer bikes, but more expensive ones. For the full year 2018, that trend resulted in a 10 percent decline in units but a 4 percent uptick in dollar sales. So far in 2019, there's less positive news: Unit sale were down 19.6 percent and total dollar sales were down 6.5 percent the first two months. 

BMX bike sales were down 40 percent in units in the period. Lifestyle/leisure bikes were down 4.7 percent. Mountain bikes were down 14.4 percent while road bikes were down 21.9 percent. Transit/fitness bikes: down 33.6 percent. Sales of youth bikes, the final nonelectric category, were down 13.5 percent. In dollar sales, all those categories were in negative territory compared to last year.

Sales of electric bikes, however, were up 24.7 percent in units and 50.1 percent in dollars in the two-month period. 

Within the subcategories there were some increases as some specific styles went in or out of fashion. For example, 27.5-inch full suspension bikes declined 54.5 percent in units, as tastes shifted to 29-inch full suspension bikes, where sales were up 61.3 percent. In the road category, the “Performance Men’s” subcategory was the only one in positive territory, showing a 0.1 percent increase in dollars but a 22.6 percent decline in units. 

Inventory changes correspondingly

Overall, BPSA distributors were more lean on inventory at the end of February than they were last year: In units, inventory was down 3.2 percent across all categories, with 722,204 bikes in stock. 

E-bike inventory was up 29.2 percent in units, to 26,094 bikes on hand. 

The subcategory to show the largest increase in inventory was the rejuvenated 29-inch full suspension bike, where the number on hand was up 185 percent. “Sport Women’s” road bike inventory showed the sharpest decline of any viable subcategory, dropping 54 percent in units. The subcategory was down sharply in sales last year. 

To be fair, full suspension 26-inch mountain bikes actually had the sharpest decline — 84 percent — but the category is now so small it's only a conversation piece: BPSA members reported they had 44 of the bikes on hand at the end of January, down from 277 bikes on hand last year at the same time.

After reporting they sold just a single 26-inch dualie in January this year, BPSA members said they sold exactly none of them in February 2019.

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