Sales Taking New Turns
Paul A. Paterson
May 1, 2003
2001, products imported from Asia represented an estimated 95
percent of the almost 20 million bicycles sold in the United States,
not so surprising in today’s global economy. What industry
observers have taken notice of, however, is a subtle shift in
where consumers are buying their bikes, as well as a trend away
from sport biking and back to Sunday pedaling.
Fields, Owner of Fields and Associates, an Arizona-based
bike industry-consulting firm, believes consumers looking for
a quality but affordable bicycle are turning to mass retailers
instead of the specialty shop.
"The $200 to $250 price point, where a lot of the juvenile
bikes are sold, shifted from the specialty retailer to the multi-sport
retailer, causing a shift in income," Fields said. "That
is a disappointing outcome for the specialty retailer because
that brought juvenile and adult customers in who bought helmets
and gloves and other accessories, things that have a much higher
These margins often exceed 50 percent for accessories, an important
source of revenue for the specialty shop. The consumer, Fields
believes, receives the same product quality, but the service end
of the transaction might suffer.
"Two to three years ago, you couldn't find a $200 bike in
Wal-Mart," Fields said. "Now, you go into the store
with $199 in your pocket and you'll come out with a pretty good
bike. It's probably heavy, it doesn't fit you right and there's
nobody at the store that can set it up for you. That's the bad
question of service is something Michael Klasmeier, Program Director
with the American League of Bicyclists, says
bike retailers should take seriously.
"You really want to educate your sales staff. Service is
probably the number one thing," Klasmeier said. "You
can have a steak anywhere. What takes you to a good restaurant
is the service. You can go to a big box store and buy a bike and
not know if it's been assembled properly or if it fits you properly.
If you go to a bike retailer, you're going to get a level of service."