Some Numbers Comparing Running Retail to Bike Retail

As the bike industry is just beginning to move their catalog of goods online, practically the entire floor of a running store is filled with items that can be purchased from the manufacturer websites- and in many cases it can be found cheaper. In many ways, how a running store is operated today could be a blueprint for how bike retailers may have to operate in the future.  So how do running stores stay afloat when everything they sell can be purchased from a phone?

A Nike retail store in France. 

When I ask IBR owners and managers this question, a popular response is that running stores can survive because there are more people running than cycling. They believe the customer base of runners is so much larger that they can work on massive volume. This thinking may be incorrect. Running participation in the US is nearly identical to cycling. In a 2013 study done by the National Sporting Goods Association the number of people participating in cycling or running activities was very similar, with 39.3 million people cycling and 40 million people running. The NSGA classifies participants as those who ride or run at least six times during a calendar year. The NSGA then takes the total number of participants and breaks it up into three categories: frequent, occasional, and infrequent.

Total participants (in millions):
39.3 cycling, 40.03 running

Frequent, more than 110 days per year:
5.35 cycling, 9.22 running

Occasional, 25-109 days per year:
18.55 cycling, 18.56 running

Infrequent, 6-24 days per year:
15.41 cycling, 12.23 running 

While the number of runners and number of cyclists may be similar, there is one reason many bike retailers will call out when they are compared to a thriving running stores. There just are not as many running retailers as bike retailers and therefore the running stores command a larger portion of the market. In this instance, they are correct.

According to Leisure Trends Group there are more than 1038 specialty running stores in the US, compared to just over 4000 independent bike retailers. Though it should be noted that Leisure Trend’s numbers only reflect specialty stores, they do not include everyone who is selling running shoes. Those 1038 stores represent approximately 22% percent of all running shoes sold, the remaining 78% is split amongst online retailers, general sporting goods stores, and discount stores. In a similar fashion 74% of bicycles sold in the US are sold by department stores and discount stores. 

Do you think bike retail and running retail are similar? Are they the same customer base? Do they have the same challenges ad opportunities?

Please remember to comment and share. Thanks- Donny

Check out 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.