Pandemic ‘leads to 22% surge in bike sales’

·3-min read

The pandemic triggered an estimated 22% jump in bicycle sales in the UK after several years of stagnation, figures suggest.

The number of bikes sold reached an estimated 3.3 million, up from 2.7 million in 2019, analysts Mintel said.

More than a fifth of cyclists (21%) have bought a bike for themselves in the past 12 months, up from 17% over the previous year, while those that intend to buy a bike in the next year has risen from 37% in 2020 to 42%.

A quarter of adults (25%) who bought a bike in the past year were either new first-time cyclists or people who used to cycle in the past and returned to the saddle during the pandemic.

A cyclist in Cambridge
More than a fifth of cyclists have bought a bike for themselves in the past 12 months (Chris Radburn/PA)

Overall, just under a third of adults (31%) in Britain currently cycle and around a fifth (19%) of all Britons cycle at least once a week.

Meanwhile, the value of the bicycle market rose an estimated 44% to reach almost £1.2 billion in 2020, up from £825 million in 2019, as a surge in demand and global supply constraints pushed up average prices and made bicycles one of the most sought-after UK consumer items of 2020.

Mintel senior analyst John Worthington said: “Cycling has been one of the clear winners during the upheaval of the past year.

“The perfect set of circumstances for bike sales, which the pandemic created, is likely to be a one-off ‘black swan’ event. However, there is now a solid platform for sustained growth, provided the industry can manage the supply chain challenges that have been the one major spoke in the wheel during the recent bike boom.”

Mountain bikes remain the most popular type of adult bicycle, with one in three cyclists (33%) currently owning one.

However e-bike ownership has risen steadily from 7% in 2020 to 9% in 2021. Although an estimated 170,000 e-bikes were sold in 2020 – a rise of 70% – they still account for only one in 20 bicycles bought in the UK. However, they already account for around 23% of all bicycle spending.

Mintel’s figures come as soaring sales of e-bikes and scooters, up 94%, helped Halfords notch up a 72% jump in annual profits.

Harris Qureshi, a partner at e-bike firm Mate Bike UK, said: “Demand has been unreal as we approach the warmer months. It seems people are thinking ahead as to how they might spend their summer or thinking about taking a different approach to commuting back to the office. As a result orders have skyrocketed and we’ve pre-sold 50% of a new bike that will be landing in July.

“We took a gamble and pre-ordered a lot of stock and parts last year, worked hard on our supply chain and warehousing and I’m so pleased we made that investment. Ultimately, it means we can fulfil all our orders, without keeping customers waiting.”

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