How's Business?

This year may have started with a stock exchange bear market and falling Aussie dollar, but if the shops that we called on 19th January are anything to go by, this negative financial news is not hurting the bicycle industry, for now at least.

Our monthly phone around Australia suggests that business is ticking over quite busily. In fact we had to call quite a number of shops to find some who were not too busy with customers or repairs to talk to us this month.

Welcome to our monthly conversation with bicycle dealers across Australia which we simply start by asking, ‘How’s business?’

With the warmer weather well upon us, not surprisingly the dealers we called were a little more upbeat than during winter. But from our tiny sample at least, you wouldn’t say that it’s boom times in the bike industry at the moment.

As you would expect, based upon our calls to one bicycle shop in each state, business is picking up around Australia now that warmer weather and longer days have finally arrived.

As you might expect, given the long cold winter we’ve had, some of the shops that we called this month have found business to be tough.

As you might have expected, being in the middle of one of the coldest winters for years, the six dealers we phoned around Australia for this month’s How’s Business we’re finding things fairly tough, although there was a lot of variation between their comments.

Welcome to our monthly third degree interrogation of six unsuspecting bicycle dealers from around Australia, who will call and ask without notice, ‘How’s business?’ You never know when your turn will come around next…

It sounds like the former ‘mining boom states’ of WA and Queensland are now doing things tough when it comes to retail sales.

When I talk to dealers around Australia about what they think of our ‘How’s Business?’ column, they sometimes think that everyone must be telling fibs and saying that things are better than they really are.

With product suppliers investing more heavily than ever in women’s specific products, for this month’s follow up question we asked, ‘Do you have any specific strategies in place for selling to women?’

Welcome to our monthly nationwide chat to bicycle dealers where we simply start by asking, ‘How’s business?’ As always, we ask a follow up question. Because we’re running a feature story in our next print edition of Bicycling Trade (Issue 53 due out March 2015) about cyclocross bikes we thought it would be timely to ask each dealer, ‘Do you sell any cyclocross bikes in your store? If so, what's your experience?’

Most shops were busy with Christmas customers when we recently called them for this month’s ‘How’s Business?’ With the summer season in full swing, our follow up question this month was, ‘Of the three summer months, which is your biggest for sales, December, January or February?’

Once again we phoned a mix of city and country shops from far and wide across Australia to ask them, ‘How’s Business?’ For this month’s follow up question I asked, ‘Have you ever tried to measure how long on average it takes you to sell a bicycle?’ It was one of the few follow up questions that I’ve ever asked that has received a 100% consistent response rate. In this case the response was, ‘No.’

This month our random selection of six bike shop owners around Australia were all upbeat about their sales in spring so far, but they were also unanimous in saying how much it contrasted with a tough winter.