Halfords sees kids' bike sales plummet

Poor weather and screen-happy children to blame for slump

by Mark Appleton   January 15, 2011  

Halfords logo

Britain's biggest bike retailer Halfords has suffered poor sales of children’s bikes in the run-up to Christmas which in turn has dented its profit forecast.

A combination of the coldest December on record and a seemingly less active pre- and early-teen population who prefer computer gaming to cycling conspired to depress the market at what is traditionally a bumper time for the sale of children’s bikes.

David Wild, Halfords' chief executive, told the Telegraph that pre-Christmas bicycle sales were down 16% compared to the same period in 2009: "Cycling was a disappointment. Children's cycles were not the Christmas gift that anyone expected them to be."

Wild also cited the changes to the Cycle to Work scheme as another factor which hit sales in the last quarter of 2010, particularly sales of high end bikes where the savings offered have previously made well-specified machines more tempting.

The poor December weather wasn’t all bad news for Halfords, however, as sales of automotive consumables such as wiper blades, bulbs and batteries were up 29% compared to the last quarter of ’09.

As for the coming year, Mr Wild said: "It's a very uncertain environment. Customers are feeling very nervous with VAT rising and the public spending cuts."

With a prediction that Halfords profits will be at the lower end of an expected £127m to £135m range, the company’s shares fell 15 to 405p.
 

5 user comments

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I thought it might be down to their shocking wrenching abilities and questionable customer service, but there you go.

posted by Karbon Kev [681 posts]
15th January 2011 - 11:37

3 Likes

I'm not sure children are any more "screen-happy" now than they were a year ago. So I doubt a 16% drop in sales compared to 2009 can be attributed to that, any more than other long term trends like safety-paranoid parents being persuaded by the helmet brigade that cycling is a dangerous activity. Halfords' cycle business getting squeezed by supermarkets at the low end, and recent converts to cycling getting wise to better options on the high end, would be my guess.

Snow would definitely have been a factor, but I am getting sick of hearing big retail corporations piss and moan about it, because profits might be down a fraction, but still hundreds millions (or in the case of another recent complainer, Tesco, billions) of pounds. Why don't they stop their tax avoidance, and stop lobbying against local business rates, then maybe councils would have enough money to grit all the roads? Otherwise it sounds like they are trying to make the case that the roads to and from their out-of-town stores should be prioritised, which would make things even worse for cyclists than they already are during icy periods.

posted by handlebarcam [529 posts]
15th January 2011 - 12:32

4 Likes

I'm going to try and be optimistic and say maybe the parents have been taking their kids down to the local bike shop instead... maybe.... just maybe....

Chutzpah's picture

posted by Chutzpah [68 posts]
15th January 2011 - 17:33

2 Likes

Or maybe it's because they made a lot of experienced salesmen, like me, redundant last spring/summer or did they get it right "letting us go" having seen the downturn coming in their crystal ball. In any event a big thank you from me I am enjoying my early retirement getting the miles in.Smile

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [227 posts]
15th January 2011 - 19:48

3 Likes

A big upswing in kids on the boards where there are velodromes, never seen as many but their bikes are not coming from Halfords, they have obviously missed the boat.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [965 posts]
16th January 2011 - 14:00

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