Bicycle Association release new ‘COVID Impact’ report on UK economy

The Bicycle Association (BA), the national trade association for the UK cycle industry, has released a new “COVID Impact” report on the UK cycling economy, covering sales from January to October 2020.

This follows its publication in June of a baseline report on the UK cycling sector, which for the first time provided accurate and granular sales data for calendar years 2018 and 2019.

Steve Garidis, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, 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 £5.4b per year to the UK economy.”

Both reports take their core data from the Bicycle Association’s Market Data Service (MDS), a massive UK wide monthly collation of sales data direct from retailers across the country, covering over two thirds of the UK cycling market. The data is aggregated and anonymised by Sports Marketing Surveys Inc, the Association’s data partner. The MDS provides the Association with monthly updates and over 700,000 products categorised for analysis; powerful tools to analyse the UK cycle market and its potential.

Key findings include:

  • Retailers have seen sales grow by 60% since March 2020
  • E-bike sales more than doubled
  • One pound in every five spent on bicycles during the pandemic was spent on e-bikes.
  • The UK cycling market is expected to be worth £2.2 billion by the end of 2020

Garidis added: “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. 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.”

Between April and September 2020 the UK cycling market saw a 27% rise in sales volume and a 26% increase in average prices, compared with the same period in 2019.

Cycling during the pandemic lock-down reached its high point between mid-April and mid-June, regularly exceeding 250% of normal pre-COVID levels, according to Government data analysed in the report. Cycling also broadened its market penetration, with Sport England survey data showing participation rising from 16.5% to 18% of the population: an extra million cyclists on the road.

This was reflected both on bike shop floors and online. Retailers saw an influx of new, first-time customers, especially amongst the under 35s, some reporting a new-to-existing customer ratio higher than 70-30.

In addition, the COVID impact report also illuminates the rising importance of electric bikes. E-Bikes were already a major growth segment before 2020, and COVID-19 turbo-charged this trend with a 92% year-on-year rise in e-bikes sold, and a value increase of 118%, between April and September 2020. One pound in every five spent on a bicycle during the pandemic was spent on an e-Bike.