All bike categories are doing well right now but some are doing much better than others. Ditto for price points. Many suppliers are reporting shortages in £200 to £300 bikes.
“I could cry,” said one MD at the BAGB AGM yesterday.
“Last year there was a glut of bikes, this year we can’t keep up with demand. I would like to be able to turn on the tap and get more bikes, but I can’t.”
Sourcing overseas has obvious cost benefits but spikes in demand cannot be coped with terribly well. Those UK suppliers able to increase domestic production are reporting excellent trading figures as other suppliers scrabble for stock.
Just about every UK supplier is reporting bonanza Spring sales figures, not just compared to last year (anything would be better than 2001!) but to Q1 in the recent past. Raleigh chairman Phillip Darnton told Bikebiz.co.uk that he’s expecting the best April sales figures for five years.
King Liu, founder of Giant, said in Taiwanese newspaper Economic Daily (and quoted on http://www.bikexpo.com) that the combined bicycle shipments by the Giant group would reach 4.5 million units for 2002.
Liu said: "Many world-class companies left the market during the recession in last two years. The recovered world economy offers us good business opportunities."
And warmer weather helps too.
But the bottleneck in worldwide bike production isn’t just down to most Far Eastern bike factories not being able to ship out bikes to the main markets of the world quick enough, there’s a shortage of key components, so built frames stay naked. Last year’s downbeat sales figures – and over-production and consequent dumping and discounting – meant the global industry scaled back. Sales forecasters, in the UK at least, did not have the confidence (or the money) to order sufficient bikes to cater for a bumper, FMD-free, warm and sunny Spring.
Bike shop tills are filling with cash, but an inability to fulfil demand in the next couple of months could lead to tempers fraying on all sides.