Independent retail survey: The results, part two

100 front line businesses share their feedback from the past year's trading
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Each December BikeBiz calls on independent retailers to share their feedback on the year’s trading, concerns and aspirations for the future. Mark Sutton gathers 100 individual responses from the front line in another revealing insight into the specialist business...

Would you say the workshop is more or less important to your business than this time last year?

More 52.0%
Less 1.1%
The same importance 46.9%

Comment: It’s astounding to see an almost unanimous verdict toward steady or increased business generated via the mechanic. Over half see added value in the often larger margin gathered from repair work over shop floor sales.

In the past year have you increased online business?

Decreased online business 11.2%
No 27.8%
Grown it slightly 34.4%
Grown it significantly 10.0%
Doubled trade online 2.2%
More than doubled online trade 4.4%
Just begun to develop online 10.0%

Comment: A slow and steady pattern is once again emerging. Could social media have played its part as the internet continues to evolve? Experts certainly seem to think that with invested time here, businesses can continue to expand online portals.

In the past 12 months, which of these sectors has seen a marked rise in demand in store?

Leisure/sit-up and beg style bikes 41.6%
BMX 28.1%
Road 56.2%
Hardtail MTB 16.9%
Full-suspension MTB 12.4%
Tandem 4.5%
Downhill & Slopestyle 1.1%
Cyclocross 3.4%
4X 1.1%
Folding 6.7%
Electric 16.9%
Fixed gear 6.7%
Touring 15.7%
Time Trial 3.4%
Cargo bike 5.6%

Comment: We’d have put money on electric and cyclocross bikes having generated higher interest in the past year, yet both still still lag far behind more traditional requests from customers.

If you turn a profit this year, what percentage will be channelled back into the business?

1% to 10% 18.8%
10% to 30% 15.6%
30% to 50% 15.6%
50% to 75% 14.6%
75% to 100% 35.4%

Comment: With perhaps the largest differences year-on-year, the response here reflects the need to prop up one’s business while trading conditions still concern. Last year 33.1 per cent voted in favour of just a 10 to 30 per cent re-investment of profits.

Which month best suits the retail timetable for a trade show?

January 15.5%
February 71.1%
March 12.4%
April 3.1%
May 2.1%
June 1.0%
July 0.0%
August 0.0%
September 3.1%
October 3.1%
November 8.2%
December 0.0%

Comment: Believe it or not, there are 12 months to choose from, yet it’s clear that the front line has the most time to spare for suppliers in the first three months of the year, particularly February.

What will profit channelled back into the business be spent on?

Store security 12.5%
Staff wage or hiring 17.7%
New store 20.8%
Developing online trade 38.5%
Expanding stock 38.5%
Paying off loans/supplier debts 30.2%
Store vehicles 10.4%
Marketing 41.7%
Redecoration 26.0%

Comment: Paid for marketing has surprised us by topping the poll in this multiple choice question. The intention is clearly there for independents to challenge online, though paying off supplier debts may prove a priority for many.

Which of the following have, or continue to cause your business concern?

Rent Rises 18.6%
Suppliers selling out of key lines 37.1%
Complete bike price rises 22.7%
Grey import competition 47.4%
Online competition 70.1%
Supermarket or chain store competition 33.0%
Disposing of waste 6.2%
Courier charges or inflexibility 14.4%
Lack of hireable mechanics 8.2%
Banks refusing loans 13.4%
The state of the economy 58.8%

Comment: Plenty of concerns raised by our panel. The state of the economy and, in turn, the availability of affluent customers seems to trouble many, yet it’s online competition, occasionally combined with grey import sales, that once again cause a headache.

BikeBiz would like to thank Cycling Sports Group UK for once again backing this research.

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