E-Bikes make up 11% of UK’s import values, while bike volumes remain on course for 25% YOY decline

Figures released to members of the Bicycle Association for Great Britain today illustrate that the UK market remains on course to shrink by 25 percent or more by import volume.

There are few silver linings in the figures, which paint a picture of a market resettling after a period of oversupply. As reported back in August, the market looks set to import around one million less bikes than the average between 2010 and 2015 – around 2.6 million are expected to land in total.

While numbers are down in the year to date, Q3 imports were actually up a little in terms of volume and value. Unsurprisingly, electric bikes once again lead the charge, representing around 11% of the value shipped, but just 3% of the volume.

The growth rate is significant in recent times, jumping up from 5% of the value in 2015/16 and 2% of imports – however, it is acknowledged that these figures may well have been skewed by incorrect import codes. This, it is hoped, is a trend eradicated by HMRC in January of this year when import coding was amended for clarity.

China, currently embroiled in a spat with the European Bicycle Manufacturer’s Association relating to dumping measures, represents the bulk of electric bike imports at 44%+ and averaging only £309 in landed value. Assuming the previous import code problems have been fully ironed out, that would indicate that the UK’s sweet spot for e-Bike sales sits at between £500 and £800 at retail. With China’s increasingly large share of the pie, import values have declined consecutively since Q1. As far as European import volumes of e-Bikes go, Hungary and Germany made the most significant gains, yet still only represented around a quarter (each) of China’s tally.

Exports in Q3 have shaved 20% off 2016’s like-for-like data. The Bicycle Association says that it must be considered that many exports are actually imports that are re-shipped and therefore it’s likely that this actually represents a small increase in units available for UK distribution in the quarter.

Are sales declining? Members of the Association suggest that, put in context, no. If statements from member brands are accurate, that further adds weight to the notion that the market was heavily oversupplied in recent years.

Elsewhere in the EU, trends are present for a decline in imports, yet the UK’s downturn is steeper than most. It should be noted that the fall in the value of Sterling will have added an adverse effect. A significant chunk of the drop stems from Taiwanese imports, which have more than halved at 51%. In somewhat of an anomaly, Italian imports have risen near five fold in the year to date over the same 2016 period.

The BA is now seeking to create a retail audit working group, pooling data from point of sale data. It is asking the industry to get in touch with operations director Steve Garidis to get this project, which the BA is offering to commission on behalf of members, moving forwards. The Association is also extending its call for new members. Should you wish to become involved, click here.