We ask the nation's bike retailers on the past 12 months

Retail Survey 2015: ‘A horrific three months of an appalling summer’

This year has been a bit of a rollercoaster – thanks in part to a tricky summer – which is no surprise to most of the cycle trade, but there’s been a few shifts in the market noted by our retailer readers, from increased competition to – gasp – signs of electric bike market growth. And how about a mountain bike resurgence? And how confident is the market about trading in 2016?

All those questions and market insights are provided here in this year’s BikeBiz Retail Survey. Thanks to all the shops that took part and for being so candid about the state of the bicycle industry.

By what percentage have your annual profits increased or declined year-on-year?

A “horrific three months” of an “appalling summer” followed a “reasonable winter of 2014/15”. That was a recurring view from the 100-plus retailers that took part, with another stating it had “very strong growth in the first quarter of 2015 totally reversed from May onwards.” Of course it wasn’t all bad, with a lot of new retailers understandably seeing plenty of growth. And some older retailers were up too: “Busiest year I’ve had in ten years trading” said one, another added: “Still growing by four per cent year-on-year for past five years.” Overall though, far from a positive 12 months for IBDs.

What will you spend any investment in the business on?

As admirable as the Living Wage is, one retailer noted it will “make investment in anything difficult this year”. Moving on to those retailers that will be ploughing cash into enhancing their business, respondents picked out investment in manufacturing and increasing showroom square footage.

Another retailer noted: “A good online presence definitely pays dividends in store.” With that in mind it’s not surprising to see online trade was the most popular place to spend money, following by POS and redecoration and then expanding stock levels. A high 25.9 per cent will use investment to pay loans or supplier debts.

Are you selling more or less bikes with finance deals than this time last year?

There’s not been much change in the finance market, so say our readers, with almost two thirds stating there’s been no noticable rise or fall in the number of bikes being sold through finance. In fact quite a few respondents said the sector had been lacklustre, even in cases where it had been pushed hard.

One of the respondents told us: “We only started offering finance a year ago so will be able to better answer the question next year…but we would have to say finance has not been as popular as we’d hoped even though we advertise it heavily.” Another was similarly surprised at its popularity: “We have sold nothing on finance this year nor last.”

That static view of the finance market was backed still further with those seeing a rise cancelling out those that saw a fall. However that does seem to contradict one recent report from V12 Finance, although that service could possibly be taking share from competitors. 

The rest of the results will be posted tomorrow and Wednesday, or you can read the lot in the December edition of BikeBiz.

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