Black Friday 2012 and the motorcycle market

Our annual ADP Lightspeed analysis of Black Friday retail sales provided us with some interesting data on V-twin and metric dealers in 2012.

V-twin sales up 5.2 percent
For V-twin dealers in 2012, Black Friday showed an increase of 5.2 percent over previous year. The year 2011 was 2.5 percent over 2010.

In 2010, Black Friday was 90 percent higher than the average of two other days: the Friday that preceded it and the Friday that followed. In 2011, the day was 86 percent higher than the average of the two surrounding Fridays, and in 2012 that increase in sales was 71 percent.

Looking at these three Fridays combined in each of the subject years, we see that in 2010 V-twin sales were $4.6 million. In 2011 that rose to $4.8 million (up 4 percent), and in 2012 sales for the three Fridays were $5.3 million (up 10 percent).

In 2010, four V-twin dealers were not open on Black Friday. In 2012, all dealers surveyed were open.

This data supports the conclusion that V-twin dealers have developed a mature shopping experience for customers at this unique time of year. While the growth of the single day itself has slowed over the past three years, the combination of the three days involved has grown substantially, and does not show signs of slowing.

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A slight increase for metric increase
For metric dealers in 2012, Black Friday showed an increase of only 1.4 percent over the previous year. Black Friday sales in the year 2011 saw a  14.2 percent increase over 2010 sales on Black Friday.

Looking at a broader view, we see that Black Friday of 2010 was just 5 percent higher than the average of the two Fridays that bracket it. In 2011, Black Friday was 13 percent greater than the average of the other two days, and in 2012 the difference was 10 percent. Looking at the total sales for all three days combined, we see that 2011 was 9 percent greater than 2010, and 2012 was 3 percent greater than 2011.

In 2010, 8 percent of metric dealers were closed on Black Friday. In 2011 only three out of 100 were closed, but in 2012 that number rose to four in 100.

While Black Friday does show some increase in sales activity among selected metric dealers, it does not approach in any measure the activity reached by V-twin dealers, or the U.S. retail market as a whole during this time of year. The strong product identification created by V-twin manufacturers is certainly a major contributing factor here, but metric dealers appear to have missed an opportunity that has grown to major importance in the V-twin — and most other consumer — retail areas.

Hal Ethington has been associated with the powersports industry for more than 40 years. Ethington is a senior analyst at ADP Lightspeed. Contact him at


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