Should a retailer open their doors earlier or later? Open or closed on Sunday? Retailers are always testing their hours of operations but this may help end the trial and error.
Choosing hours of operations is based on a number of factors including the shopping preferences of customers, potential sales, and fixed costs of staying open. Managers also have to consider the willingness of their staff to work certain hours. Since cost of labor can range up to 20% of an IBR’s total revenue it is crucial that every hour a store is open, it is open for a reason. Either to manage customer purchases or provide a customer service which creates profit later.
To help bike retailers make a more informed decision, in May of 2012 I conducted a study that took a closer look at hours of operations for IBRs in the United States. I sampled hours from a hundred bike retailers from 17 cities in the continental United States and compared them to a hundred other sporting goods retailers in the same cities.
Sporting goods retailers open earlier and close later than bike retailers in nearly all cases studied. The most common hours for a bike shop are 10-7 on weekdays, 10-6 on Saturday, and closed on Sunday. For sporting goods retailers the hours were longer in every instance: 10-9 on weekdays, 9-9 on Saturday, and 10-7 on Sunday. This begs the question, are sporting goods retailers providing a better service or taking potential customers from bike retailers?
With these results we learn that bike retailers are open 53 hours per week on average while sporting goods retailers are open 76 hours each week.
Opening earlier or closing later can prove fruitful though. Being the only bike retailer open in a city at 9pm might mean, over time, they will acquire new customers who would usually go to other stores but can’t. If an IBR has a ride that leaves from their store every Saturday at 7am, earlier hours on Saturday would allow them to provide pre-ride services and sell products needed for the ride. These small gestures of good will go a long way. Mellow Johnny’s in Austin, Texas opens their doors at 7am every day except Sunday when it opens at 8am. In a discussion with their manager I learned that business is generally slow in the morning. The customers that do stop by are generally dropping off their bike for repair before their workday begins and they are always grateful.
The study showed that Sunday was the most popular day for bike retailers to be closed with 32% locking the doors, compared to 11% of sporting goods retailers. If an IBR is choosing to close for moral or religious reasons, then by all means, I encourage them to do so. For other, smaller retailers closing down for one day a week may be helpful when attempting to save money. However, closing one day a week means being closed for 52 days a year, almost two months. Any retailer choosing to close one day each week will want to be absolutely sure they are making a smart financial decision.
According to the study the most effective, and possibly lucrative, hours of operation for bike retailers would be 11-8 on weekdays and 8-6 on the weekends. Of course this can vary from one location to another and whatever the hours of operation are retailers would be wise to prove the effectiveness by measuring traffic flow and sales.
Thank you for reading this far. If you found this content valuable, please share. Thanks - Donny
You can find more studies like this in my book! Leading Out Retail is a creative look at bicycle retail and teaches retailers simple strategies on how to increase profit through service, what the most important question to ask every customer is, and how to manage the dreaded Timmy Factor.