The UK looks set to see its first hot summer since 2006, but will the UK cycle trade be able to take advantage of increased consumer demand?
The Met Office’s forecast is decidedly bike-friendly, with temperatures in excess of 30°C predicted to sweep the UK.
While not ruling out the chance of some heavy downpours, the Met Office said that the forecast is rosy for the summer: "After two disappointingly-wet summers, the signs are much more promising this year,” said Ewen McCallum, chief meteorologist at the Met Office.
“We can expect times when temperatures will be above 30°C, something we hardly saw at all last year."
And the cycling industry is poised to make the most of it, with a raft of events – including Bike Week – and the chance to boost sales too.
Madison CEO Dominic Langan cautiously welcomed the news: “If this hot summer happens it will undoubtedly impact positively on sales.”
Distributor Zyro also added that the weather was good news for the trade. “Good weather most certainly boosts sales, but we have experienced a good Q1 already despite the slow start to the summer so far. At this point, market indicators tell us Zyro’s retailers will have a strong summer season,” said a Zyro spokesperson.
Leisure Lakes’ Nottingham store owner Andy Ramsdale believes the weather is a bigger factor for retailers than the recession: “I’d say that generally the biggest influencing factor on whether or not it’s a good year is the weather. We seem to be more affected by the climate than the economic situation.”
ACT research has also confirmed the boost that sunny days can provide, as Mark Brown told BikeBiz: “The industry is dominated by the weather. We published a report last year which found, unsurprisingly, that the warmer and drier it gets the more bikes get sold.”
But while the Met Office is predicting a scorcher of a summer, fears have risen over whether the distribution network has enough stock of certain bike categories to cope. Supplies are believed to have been kept low due to the recession, plus price hikes forced by the pound’s falling strength. Should levels prove low during a sales surge brought about by hot weather, then IBDs could be left with a stock shortfall.
An ACT report revealed that over half the retailers surveyed note significant shortages.
Compton Cycles owner Chris Compton told BikeBiz he has already encountered problems: “It’s frustrating that in some areas – particularly road bikes between
£500 and £1,000 – there is no stock available. But it does give IBDs chance to clear stock.”
Bike store Cycledealia’s Brett Sanders added: “Availability is going to be a big issue this summer, especially on road bikes ranging from £500 to £800.”
Sandy Wallace Cycles’ sales manager David Wardell said he’d already found that key bikes had sold out from some suppliers, but added that it wasn’t causing him undue concern: “The models that have sold out can be replaced by other suppliers and I have placed forward order’s to guarantee bikes till August.
“I will continue to monitor the stock situation forward ordering bikes and looking at alternative models if any sell out. With our main bike suppliers emailing stock reports and having B2B site’s this can be done 7days a week and out of office hours.
“My only concern is that shops start to panic buy, forward ordering more bikes then they need ‘just in case’ suppliers sell out. This seemed to happen at Christmas with suppliers saying they had sold out to then have bikes back in stock after the last date to cancel orders passed,” Wardell added.
Madison CEO Langan told BikeBiz: “At Madison we put a great deal of effort into managing inventory and have a fair amount of scope for handling and reacting to sales surges greater than those planned for.
“It is notoriously hard to predict for longer lead time products like bikes. Mid-to-late summer is effectively season end when stocks are designed to run out. A good season means bikes sell out early and a poor one means that there is availability throughout. The game is to guess it right – and a year in advance!”
Zyro also assured the trade that it was well prepared with reliable product availability: “We have absolutely no concerns regarding supply and demand. Fortunately, we have a stable and strong inventory process and have already – as always – geared up for the season anyway. We are fortunate that all the brand partners we work with all have the most reliable availability of product.
“Our biggest strength as a distributor is our ability to service our customers and ensure supply meets the demand, and we work very closely with our customers to ensure we can assist them to buy what they need, when they need it.”