That's one of the statistical findings in the latest Retail Data Capture Analysis Report by Jay Townley for the National Bicycle Dealers' Association of America. A PDF of the full report can be downloaded within. As usual, the RDC report is packed with info, market trends, mainstream financial websites to go pore over as well as bike-trade specific statistics.

US independent bicycle shops hold their own against mass merchants carried PDFs of the NBDA’s Retail Data Capture Analysis reports all last year. The latest report – for December 2003 – can be downloaded below. To find the others, go to the search box on the left of the site and type in ‘NBDA’.

Here are just a few of the highlights of the report:

Taiwan was a distant second to China as a source country for U.S. bicycle imports, but achieved an increase in one very important category. Total units decreased by over 19 percent [in 2003 compared to 2002], but FOB dollar value decreased only 2.3 percent. The reason is an increase in the average unit value of a bicycle imported from Taiwan increased by almost $29, or just over 21 percent in 2003 compared to 2002. We think this is significant, and well worth noting at it relates to the increase in Road 700c and the Taiwanese bicycles industry’s overall A-Team initiative to move up-market.

……. “New American Luxury – The Cycling Opportunity” is the title of an article by Michael D. Basch, CEO of YaYa! Bike, the U.S. bicycle dealer owned cooperative. In this article Mike talks about a new book that we highly recommend to everyone in the specialty bicycle retail channel, retailers and suppliers – Trading Up: The New American Luxury by Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske. This book describes a very powerful trend – “America’s middlemarket consumers are trading up.” According to the authors this trend “forces us to think in new ways about the relationship between consumer needs and consumer goods.” Why? The authors report that: “We have interviewed hundreds of middle-market consumers, observed hundreds more in their homes and workplaces, and conducted a survey of more than 2,300 people earning $50,000 and above. Ninety-six percent of them say they will pay a premium for at least one type of product.” The new luxury market is based on emotional drivers, not the prestige and status of the old luxury market. The old luxury market is based on prestige and status, while the new luxury market is based on emotional drivers. The middle-market consumer, earning $50,000 and above, “are people who pay a premium for products and services that meet emotionally charged needs with money saved by buying cheap on other things.” This is a very powerful strategic marketing trend that is changing the face of U.S. retailing – and the specialty bicycle retail channel is ideally and uniquely positioned to take maximum advantage of it! ….. Number of specialty bicycle retail locations declines 7 percent from January 2003 to January 2004. The attendees at the 2004 BBLC were informed that the number of specialty bicycle retail locations has declined by 376, or 7 percent over the past year, to 4,982 store locations as of January 1, 2004. The following table also shows that over the past five-years the number of bicycle dealer locations peaked in 2001 with 6,259 and has declined each of the three year since, by a total of 1,277 locations, or 20 percent from the period January 2001 to January 2004. ……..
The U.S. is the largest net importer of bicycles in the world. This statement of fact should come as no surprise, and the following table shows the steady decline of U.S. domestic production, and the correspondingly steady rise of bicycle imports. Ten years ago U.S. domestic production still controlled over 50 percent of the market. Today, domestic production holds less than a percentage point. Imports took over half the market in 1997, achieved dominance in 1998 and have increased to 99 percent of the U.S. bicycle market in 2002, continuing to 2003. …….

In a down year, specialty bicycle retailers hold their own with a slight slip to a preliminary estimate of a 16.1 share of total bicycle units sold at retail. It seems fitting to wrap up this analysis with our preliminary estimated U.S. bicycle market share by channel of trade. The preliminary estimate shows mass merchants maintaining a 74 percent of units, followed by the specialty bicycle retail channel with a 16 percent share, Chain Sporting Goods with a 2.5 percent share and all other with a 7 percent share.…/RDC-Analysis-December-03.pdf

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