First half bicycle imports into UK lowest for over a decade

Import data has shown UK bicycle imports in both Q1 and Q2 to be at the lowest level for more than a decade.

Available to Bicycle Association members, the figures illustrate that, at the end of Q2, bicycle imports posted a 46% decline like-for-like with the year prior. While marginally improved on Q1, the figures still paint a picture of a market with receding bicycle sales.

More units were imported in Q1 last year than in the first half of 2019. Therefore the year-to-date decline is 55% when compared to H1 in 2018.

In contrast, electric bike units rose 35% in Q2 like-for-like, though year-to-date have decreased 9% indicating a steady flattening of strong growth over the past years.

This could be in relation to many factors influencing the market, from brexit to tariffs, though the Bicycle Association also wisely point to buying incentives seen in Europe, as well as the likely kick from safer infrastructure as playing a part in a sales trend disparity.

In value terms, electric bike imports are up 41% year-to-date, most likely a reflection of higher costs following anti-dumping measures on Chinese-made models, as well as a general trend toward higher-spec bikes gaining in desirability.

As far as market share goes, e-Bikes represent a new record at 17%, up 7% year-on-year. This could be in part down to a decline in pedal powered imports.

Meanwhile, goods leaving the UK clock in at 20% down this quarter over 2018. The proportion of goods exported to non-EU countries again increased and now makes up 44%, which may well be an early sign of ‘no deal brexit’ preparation.

The Bicycle Association soon hopes to have a great wealth of retail sales data to pair with import data, something detailed in this story putting the UK market down 4.8%.

Likewise, CyclingIndustry.News is surveying the Independent Retail Channel for the third year running starting in October. Last year’s survey gave the bicycle industry a wealth of data and this time around we expect to go bigger. To enquire about early access to our findings, contact the editor here.