According to the latest figures from the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, wholesale bike sales to retailers by unit count fell 18% in May. As some good news, though, a higher average wholesale tempered the bleeding a bit as dollar sales were down less than 4% in the month.
As BPSA notes, however, single month figures can be deceptive because of pre-season shipments and other cyclical changes. May sales may have slumped somewhat because of earlier efforts this year to buy before the Trump adminstration’s new tariffs take affect, and poor weather in many parts of the country, including floods in Midwest and late winter/early spring snows in the Rockies, also are likely a factor.
It should also be noted that consumer-direct sales are not counted in these figures, and there are indications direct sales are on the rise.
BPSA’s year-to-date figures are slightly more encouraging. Through the first five months of 2019, wholesale sales of bikes were up 1.6% in dollars from the same period in 2018 despite being down 13.6% in units sold.
Some niche subcategories saw growth in May. BMX bikes, kids bikes with wheels smaller than 20-inches, cyclocross bikes, “other” road bikes (including gravel bikes), triathlon bikes, fat bikes and e-bikes all saw increases in dollar sales in the month. E-bikes were up 32% in units and 66% in dollars year to date. So far this year, e-bikes have accounted for 4.2% of all wholesale sales by unit count, and 16.2% of sales by dollar.
The largset categories of bikes all saw declines in May unit sales: lifestyle/leisure was down 35%; mountain bikes were down 15.7%; road bikes were down 17%; transit/fitness was down 21.4%; youth bikes were down 6.9%.
On the inventory side, the dollar value of inventory in stock at the end of May was up 14.5% from the same time last year. In units, inventory was up 8.5%.