Positives in a soft market?
Scuttlebutt around the grounds locally has the Australian bicycle market over the past six to nine months pegged as 'soft'. Emerging financial news from a variety of businesses around the globe lends credence to tough times being quite widespread.
On the world stage, Dorel's CSG globally dipped 10.7% in the first nine months of 2017 citing overall weakness in the bicycle market and inclement weather for the result. They are not alone.
In the UK BikeBiz one of the UK's trade publications has tagged Brexit as the primary factor leading to an 17 year low across the British bike industry. Meanwhile Bike Europe has reported Taiwan's export of regular bikes dropped by 26% in the first half of 2017.
So is it all bad news?
Globally Shimano bucked the trend a little posting total revenue results (including fishing) of 1.8% increase for the first nine months of 2017 and while comments from the company claim the market is "lacking vigour" they are optimistic about the outlook for 2018.
Suspension manufacturers Fox Factory have released numbers showing 8% increase for bike products in the third quarter.
Australian bike import data for the 2016/17 financial year does reflect to a degree what many Australian dealers are feeling. The most recent stats show total bike imports to be 1,177,784 units compared to the average for the last eight years of 1,279,288 units. This result ranks the past year as second lowest for that eight year period.
However the number of adult bikes sold for the 16/17 financial year was down just 24,113 units year on year, while the kids bike total dipped by 80,180; a figure that provokes some concern for both the health of our next generation, but also future bike sales...that's a lot of kids not used to riding bikes.
But while these are not the most impressive numbers, there is also some slim basis for a positive outlook. Unit $ value is up year on year, albeit a modest 1%, and despite the dip in unit sales, total dollar value of bike imports is up $5.5M year on year.