Bike shop survey: UK retail trends
As two of my sons work part-time in bike shops – one in a large chain and one in a small independent – I hear the view from the retailer's side: issues like margins, stock levels, cash flow, what is profitable and what is not, etc. During November, BikeBiz gathered the thoughts of 95 independent bicycle retailers in the UK on a variety of topics. The rest of this Post is mostly cobbled together from BikeBiz and Evans Cycles, one of the largest bicycle retailers in the UK.
[In the following Q&As only the most significant answer is included.]
Q: Which of the following have caused, or continue to concern your business?
A: Grey import competition: 50%
Q: Where would you like to see BikeHub contributions spent?
A: Promotion and development of cycle routes on and off road: 30.6%
Q: Is the workshop more or less important to the business than this time last year?
A: Less: 3.3%
[Comment] Though seemingly growing in popularity, entirely workshop-based businesses still represent a tiny fraction of those surveyed. The majority are accounting for up to 40 per cent of their annual profit via cycle mechanics. Many stores charge up to £80 for a full service, without complaint.
Q: In the past year, which of these sectors have seen a notable increase in in-store demand?
A: Road [bicycles]: 58.1%
[Comment] There are two clear winners – road bikes and the leisure sector. Electric bike interest appears to be creeping up.
Q: Year-on-year, have you increased online business?
A: No: 40.2%
[Comment] Half of those independents surveyed have largely been inactive on the web front. There are, however, bold moves by a small minority who claim to have doubled their online trade in just 12 months. A further eight per cent state growth has been significant. Nearly 34 per cent will channel profits into developing online trade.
Hot trends for 2011 from Evans Cycles: Evans blogs Google Zeitgeist trends for bikes, finding that searches for road bikes lead the pack.
[Evans] We all know that cycling has exploded in the last few years, and that the industry as a whole is doing well for itself – you can see this on the high street with many new bike shops opening, cool bike cafes opening up, the creation of the Sky pro tour team and of course who can forget the rise of the MAMIL! [middle-aged men in Lycra]
According to Google, interest in road bikes has exploded, partly by the increasing popularity of sportive events. The graph ... shows the sales trend of road bikes over the last 3 years. It definitely reflects the growing interest in this discipline as a whole.
What about other bikes? Well, sales of hybrid bikes continue to increase year on year. Indicative of the growing popularity of cycling as a whole, due to economic factors and people's desire for greener, healthier transport.
We expect to see continued growth of road and hybrid bike sales. In hybrid it seems that we're looking at an ever increasing variety of bikes, perhaps the most interesting factors being Boris bikes and whether we'll see more upright equipped bikes and 29'er light. Also perhaps we'll see a bit more diversification in these categories as people start to push the envelope again. We've had the retro and singlespeed theme for a while, and cyclocross has been growing at a rate. Over the next few years I'd expect to see touring and audax make a resurgence also.
In the MTB world the biggest topic is definitely 29ers. It does seem like 2011 will be their year.
London sees 7% shift away from cars. The number of Londoners getting out of their cars and using bicycles, public transport and walking has increased by seven per cent, according to Transport for London's third annual Travel in London report.
Two million journeys have been made by Barclays Cycle Hire [Boris Bikes] since its July launch. According to the survey, two-thirds of trips made by Cycle Hire would previously have been made by 'mechanised mode'. Early reports indicate that there has been an increase of 24 per cent in average cycle flows on the first of the Barclays Cycle Superhighways.