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UK bike sales up 60 per cent from March to October – and growth would have been higher still but for supply issues says trade body

Bicycle Association says e-bikes accounted for one pound in every five spent on cycling, with year on year sales more than doubling

 

Sales of bikes in the UK rose by 60 per cent from March to October this year according to new data from the Bicycle Association (BA) – and the trade body says the figure would have been even higher had supply not been affected by unprecedented global demand for bikes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In its 89-page report, The UK Cycling Market in 2020 & The Impact of COVID-19, the BA also says that e-bikes accounted for one pound in every five spent on bicycles during the period, with year-on-year sales more than doubling.

The report is based on data from BA’s Market Data Service, run in partnership with Sports Marketing Surveys Inc and aggregating sales information from retailers across the UK who together make up two thirds of the UK cycling market – which is estimated to be worth £2.2 billion by the end of the year.

> Sales data suggest “consumers cottoned on to the cycling revolution before the government did”

The BA says that the findings of the report suggest “a step-change for the cycling sector which will define its growth for years to come,” and that “the surge in sales from Q2 2020 is unprecedented in modern times.”

Compared to 2019, from April to September this year, there was a 27 per cent rise in volume (ie unit) sales, accompanied by a 26 per cent rise in average prices as demand outstripped supply.

Within e-bikes, growth – which had already been strong – exploded, with volumes up 92 per cent and value sales rising by 118 per cent.

Data from elsewhere confirm the boom in cycling triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, with government figures showing that at times during the first lockdown, levels of cycling in England more than doubled at times, and research from Sport England suggesting there are 1 million more people cycling.

> 12 ways that lockdown changed cycling

In terms of first-time customers, demand was strongest from the under-35s, and some bike shops reported that new shoppers made up more than seven in ten visitors.

Given their status as essential retailers, bike shops were allowed to stay open throughout lockdown, but unsurprisingly there was a big shift towards online sales, which more than doubled from April to September, with sales through bricks-and-mortar shops falling compared to the same months in 2019.

> Bike shops allowed to stay open following UK lockdown: but some staying closed due to safety concerns

Steve Garidis, the BA’s executive director, said: “The Bicycle Association has long made the case that the cycling industry should be seen as one of national strategic importance. In 2018 we released research calculating its considerable economic contribution – worth at least £5.4 billion per year to the UK economy.

“Covid-19 has shown just how true this is – bike shops were recognised as essential businesses able to support key workers needing to travel safely, and cycling was promoted as one of just a handful of accessible ways for the population to stay fit and sane during multiple lockdowns.

“This report quantifies the impact of this on the cycling sector,” he added. “We’re determined to use this data to convince Government that enabling people to use their bikes safely is good for the country and the economy.”

Simon joined road.cc 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.

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