If we were to center a microscope over brick and mortar retail what many people tend to find is that it’s a real estate game just as much as a retail game. If an IBR can earn significant dollars per square feet then they’ll have opportunities to set up business in a location with great traffic, parking, and amenities that facilitate a positive shopping experience. If they cannot earn the dollars per square foot then they’re blocked out of the prime locations and will work harder to convince customers to seek them out. This is how the phrase, “We’re a destination location” was born.
Sales per square foot is a popular metric used in the retailing industry and is simply the average revenue a bike shop creates for every square foot of sales space. Investopedia, a website dedicated to educating people on finances, investing, and more defines sales per square foot like this, “Sales per square foot is used by businesses and analysts alike to measure the efficiency of a store’s management in creating revenues with the amount of sales space available to them. The higher the sales per square foot, the better job management is doing of marketing and displaying the store’s products.”
According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association the average square footage of a bike shop in the United States is 4472 square feet. In a survey done by RetailSails, a retail and consumer goods consulting firm, they measured the average square footage of the nine most successful retailers in the US. They found that the average retail space of Apple, Tiffany, and Coach was similar to bike shops at just under 5000 square feet, the difference was how much those stores earned per square foot- and it was a drastic difference.
Apple was the runaway leader by far, earning $6050 per square foot nearly double over second place Tiffany & Co. The yoga-inspired apparel store Lululemon came in third at $1936 per square foot. And what about bike shops? Depending on their size a bike shop will earn between $100 and $250 per square feet. While most bicycles are more expensive than most Apple products, and require a highly knowledgeable and educated staff, they have the same earning power as a low-end department or a RadioShack.
It’s this kind of earning disparity that tells us bike retailers are clearly playing the retail game, not the real estate game. This means there will rarely be a bike retailer next to an Apple store, Tiffany & Co. or even a Lululemon. Most IBRs simply can’t afford to run a profitable business in those locations.
Since IBRs are playing the retail game they have to convince people to find them and when they do, the people working at a bike retailer have to win them over with an engaging experience, incredible product knowledgeable, and a rooted sense of trust with all cyclists walking in.
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