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.

It's Crazy The Hours That Some Bike Retailers Keep

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. 

Cities sampled in hours of operation study: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Denver, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Asheville, Atlanta, and Miami

Median in grey.

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.

Can Bike Mechanic's Afford Anything?

From the outside looking in, being a bike mechanic seems like a pretty plush job. Loose uniform standards, get to work on cool bikes, no one is judging that neck tattoo, and you've got a discount on all the best stuff. 

This all assumes thought that you have enough money to live comfortably outside of the bike shop. If not, then it can seem to be a thankless job. I have written about bike technician salaries before- but recently converted some of the research into a quick slide deck. Check it out. 

If you share this slide deck with your favorite bike mechanic they will love you and think you're cool. No, really, they will. Better share it now! Thanks - Donny

Want To Be A Bike Mechanic? You Might Want To Avoid This State.

People don't usually work in bike shops for the money, but this is ridiculous. Here are the highest and lowest paying states for bike mechanics. 

According to Salary.com the median annual salary for a bike technician in the United States is $22,337 (The website refers to bike technicians as "bicycle repairers". I know, it’s horrible.) Compare the bike technicians’ salary to $24,274, the median salary for someone who repairs shoes, $25,188 for janitors, or $29,962 for a groundskeeper or gardener. While I do not intend to demean those other professions I do want to point out that a bike technician’s skill set is just as varied, if not more so.

When breaking down the median salary by state, California was the leader, followed by New York and New Jersey. Alabama, West Virginia, and Mississippi take the last three spots respectively. 

1. California: $26,983 (San Francisco)
2. New York: $26,045 (New York)
3. New Jersey: $25,509 (Trenton)
4. Alaska: $25,285 (Anchorage)
5. Hawaii: $24,548 (Honolulu)
6. Delaware: $24,436 (Wilmington)
7. Massachusetts: $24,392 (Boston)
8. Washington: $24,101 (Seattle)
9. Connecticut: $23,856 (Hartford)
10. New Hampshire: $23,565 (Nashua)
11. Illinois: $23,431 (Chicago)
12. Michigan: $23,409 (Ann Arbor)
13. Rhode Island: $23,186 (Providence)
14. Maryland: $23,074 (Baltimore)
15. Pennsylvania: $23,007 (Philadelphia)
16. Oregon: $22,828 (Portland)
17. Maine: $22,806 (Portland)
18. Ohio: $22,694 (Cleveland)
19. Louisiana: $22,627 (New Orleans)
20. Colorado: $22,381 (Boulder)
21. Minnesota: $22,337 (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
22. Virginia: $22,314 (Richmond)
23. Georgia: $22,158 (Atlanta)
24. Arizona: $22,158 (Phoenix)
25. Florida: $21,912 (Miami)
26. Nevada: $21,912 (Las Vegas)
27. Indiana: $21,823 (Indianapolis)
28. Missouri: $21,756 (Kansas City)
29. Texas: $21,644 (Austin)
30. Idaho: $21,622 (Boise)
31. Kansas: $21,510 (Wichita)
32. Vermont: $21,399 (Burlington)
33. Utah: $21,332 (Salt Lake City)
34. Kentucky: $21,265 (Lexington)
35. Iowa: $21,198 (Des Moines)
36. Oklahoma: $21,153 (Tulsa)
37. Nebraska: $20,907 (Omaha)
38. North Carolina: $20,863 (Fayetteville)
39. New Mexico: $20,684 (Albuquerque)
40. Wisconsin: $20,550 (Madison)
41. South Carolina: $20,527 (Columbia)
42. North Dakota: $20,103 (Bismarck)
43. South Dakota: $20,014 (Rapid City)
44. Tennessee: $19,924 (Chattanooga)
45. Arkansas: $19,880 (Little Rock)
46. Montana: $19,768 (Billings)
47. Wyoming: $19,701 (Casper)
48. Alabama: $19,634 (Montgomery)
49. West Virginia: $19,433 (Charleston)
50. Mississippi: $18,450 (Jackson)

The sample city I researched is in parenthesis.

Where do you stand on the list? Do these numbers seem right or is Salary.com way off the mark? 

Thanks for taking the time to read this far. If you found value in this piece would you please consider sharing it on social? Thanks again. Donny

Source: http://salary.com/