A new Mintel report conducted alongside 2,000 UK consumers suggests that electric bike sales rose to represent nearly a quarter of cycle sales value in 2020, while the number of people expected to buy a bike or e-bike in the next 12 months remains on the rise.
The subject of whether demand will sustain as the world works its way through the pandemic is on all in the industry’s mind at present and the Mintel research has the figure at 42% of people who intend to make the investment in the coming year, versus 37% who said the same in 2020.
The findings in the report do run at odds in parts with industry research on valuations, which are based on e-commerce sales data rather than consumer surveys. Nonetheless, Mintel writes that it believes the value of the UK bicycle market rose by around 44% to reach nearly £1.2 billion in 2020, up from £825 million in 2019. Meanwhile, the Bicycle Association‘s data concludes that £1 billion was added in 2020, taking the total value to £2.31 billion. It added that bicycle sales alone surpassed £1 billion for the first time in recent datasets.
The study is nonetheless interesting as it explores topics such as where consumers bought, revealing that nearly a quarter (23%) bought bikes second-hand, a six point rise on the year prior and a situation potentially fuelled by the lack of suitable stock in the market in the second half of 2020.
John Worthington, Senior Analyst at Mintel, said: “Given the spike in demand seen during the pandemic and the supply chain challenges experienced across the industry, it is no surprise that the second-hand market has seen such a boost. With these supply issues likely to continue over the next 12 months*, there is an opportunity for local bike shops to move into the second-hand market – offering deals on servicing, enhancing and repurposing existing bikes, either for the owners themselves or to buy and sell on to new customers. Shops can enhance their green credentials by ‘upcycling’ old bikes into new improved models.”
Thought he UK has been slow in European terms to get to grips with the e-bike, the momentum is undeniably coming and Mintel put 9% of consumers owning a pedal-assisted bike versus 7% a year prior.
Mintel does estimate that 170,000 e-bikes were sold in 2020, which it says is a 70% rise year-to-year. This, it believes, accounts for one in 20 cycles bought in volume terms, but 23% in value terms.
Cross referencing with the BA data, it is believed by the association that the UK e-bike market is now worth £280 million in sales and 12% market share. Based on the trajectory of sales data, it is expected that electric bike sales may triple in the next three years. 160,000 were imported in 2020, despite market turbulence, adding 96% in value terms year-to-year.
Hybrids, sold at generally more affordable price points, rose from 15% to 22% ownership when comparing the year-to-year data. Meanwhile mountain bikes were owned by one in three of those who said they owned a bike.
21% of those surveyed reported buying a bike in the past 12 months, again an increase of 17% over the prior year’s tally. That has led the researchers to conclude the number of bikes sold reached 3.3 million, up from 2.7 million in 2019.
As far as ridership goes, 45% of the pool said they have cycled more since the start of the pandemic and 25% said they were first timers, or people that used to cycle but had returned to the saddle in the past 12 months after some time away. Overall, just under a third of adults (31%) in Britain currently cycle and around a fifth (19%) of all Brits cycle at least once a week, said the research.
Worthington added: “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.
“Consumer engagement will be stimulated by a rising focus on health and wellness. If 2020 has largely been a renaissance of leisure cycling, cycle commuting will offer a further growth opportunity as a new band of ‘COVID cyclists’ return to the workplace. Ongoing improvements in infrastructure such as new bike lanes, pavement-widening, and cycle-only corridors, accelerated by the pandemic, are helping to make cycling a safer activity. As the UK seeks to decarbonise its transport system, active travel now has strategic importance.”
For a more in depth look at UK bicycle retail trends, including data on electric bike sales and numerous other metrics that make stores more likely to carry a product, you can purchase CyclingIndustry.News’ own market report by emailing the editor here.