Letter to the Editor
To the Editor,
I love the newsletter. It helps us see the bigger picture, which is hard when you're open seven days and don't get much chance to see what else is happening in the world.
I just wanted to comment on the downturn in bicycle imports article; I don't think it reflects a change in bike sales.
For whatever reason, the local distributors have badly underestimated sales and haven't brought enough bikes in. We’re still selling them, well trying to, but supply is absolutely appalling.
We could sell more bikes if there were more bikes to sell. Between a reduction in volume and a reduction in the range of available bikes, it’s very much harder to put a customer on a bike that meets their expectations and budget.
There is nothing in the warehouse and when a shipment comes in, it sells out within days. If you’re not big enough to warehouse three to four months’ worth of stock you’re screwed! From our perspective this is a gross miscalculation by those at the top end of the industry who have lost touch with what happens on the ground.
It’s playing hell with brand loyalty; where we previously had just a few key brands, we’re being forced to source bikes wherever we can, just to sell a bike. And often the available bike is not what the customer really wants or needs, but just whatever is available. For us that’s not ideal, but as an independent store, it's not the end of the world, although it does shove you out of your niche and into the tragically generic K-Mart pool of everyone else. I can’t imagine what it would be like for a single brand concept store.
So... sales strong, supply woefully inadequate, distributor response => largely apathetic => most likely outcome, a big shift in supply agreements and the loss of several distributors from the marketplace leaving the consumer with even less choice.
That’s my two cents worth.
The Bicycle Emporium
Thanks Mark for your very insightful letter. I would be very glad to hear other dealers’ opinions about this topic. Are you having trouble getting supply of any bike models or categories at the moment? Do you think imports down simply because wholesalers are tightening stock levels or are dealer sales also down?