Like this site? Help us to make it better.

As UK bike sales boom… Maybe bicycles REALLY ARE “the new toilet paper”

Demand at pre-Christmas levels in some places - but just remember, like the Andrex puppy, a bike is for life

It may have been a throwaway (sorry) remark, but trade contacts have confirmed to that, as claimed in a Guardian Australia article yesterday, bicycles really are “the new toilet paper” as people buy up bikes either to undertake exercise during the lockdown, or to travel to work while avoiding public transport.

As we reported yesterday, Evans Cycles says it has seen “unprecedented demand” for bicycles, and while the retailer has been criticised for lack of clarity over how long it will take to deliver bikes ordered online, the sales boom is one that is being seen elsewhere in the market.

> As bike sales surge Evans slammed for not telling customers about delays on ‘in stock’ bikes before they buy

It’s a trend that is also being seen across other online retailers, with one telling us that they are struggling to keep up with demand for all kinds of bikes.

Another leading online retailer has told us that it it is currently busier than during the Black Friday sales period in late November, which has become a key driver of sales across the retail industry in the UK in recent years.

One major UK bike brand has told us that it had seen a huge increase in sales across its range and that it is working flat out to keep up with demand, including assembling them to send out to customers.

And while many bike shops are not currently letting customers into their stores to look over potential purchases, they are seeing huge demand for repairs and servicing as people get long-neglected bikes out of garages and sheds and make them roadworthy again.

> Bike shops see boom in repairs and servicing due to coronavirus

It’s a similar situation to the one highlighted in the Guardian, where the manager of the Giant Store in Sydney, Grant Kaplan, told the newspaper: ““We’re the new toilet paper and everyone wants a piece.

“We can’t keep up with sales. Literally the phone is ringing nonstop,” he added.

The same is happening parts of the United States, too – with Susan Boxmeyer, owner of The Bike Shop in Palm City, Florida, telling USA Today: “It's been crazier than Christmas.”

Like the puppy on the Andrex pack, of course, bikes are not just for Christmas, and whether in the Australia, the US or the UK, we’d hope that recent converts to cycling, or those who have returned to it, keep the habit once the global crisis passes.

And whilst we haven’t heard any tales of people emerging from shops with a couple of bikes under each arm, hopefully they’ll also discover that bicycles are as essential a part of daily life as, well, toilet paper is.

> Stay-at-home cyclists lead to turbo trainer sales boost, retailers confirm

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment


Sriracha | 4 years ago

Sales might be on a roll now, but give it a few weeks and the bottom will drop out of the market. Buy at today's prices if you want to be ripped off.

CygnusX1 replied to Sriracha | 4 years ago

Still, it's a good time two ply your trade as a bike retailer

Philh68 replied to Sriracha | 4 years ago
1 like

I’m not sure if demand will drop before it becomes difficult obtaining stock, but at some point the honeymoon will be over either way.

Here in Australia, a lot has been made of the sales boom for bikeshops, but even prior to the epidemic there have been problems getting parts from Shimano. I know of one retailer who has has been unable to get a warranty replacement hub for over 3 months. I’ve been trying to get some new roller brakes for 4 months for my Dutch bike. Shimano geoblock suppliers so it’s not possible to source elsewhere just to get the customer back on the road. Not a Coronavirus problem, but made worse by it.

With so  much freight restricted and shutdowns in manufacturing, bike shops will struggle to restock.

And of course, the Murdoch press here is still showing their anti-cycling bias by criticising one retail chain for seeking reduced rents while sales are up - ignoring that 60% of sales were in servicing and parts, low value once time and wages are taken into account and they’re not really any more profitable. They have been recruiting and training new staff, unlike Murdoch’s News Ltd which is the organisation that shut all its community newspapers to avoid paying wages until govt support kicked in and decreed it wouldn’t pay rent either. Hypocrites.

JPKD replied to Sriracha | 4 years ago

It's still very early in the season and the pandemic. I think there will be stock issues at some point for popular models at the moment. As we get later into the season suppliers and retailers will identify where they have too much stock and start to discount. For the time being, I think it will be RRP all the way like turbo trainers. 

Latest Comments