Global bicycle supply affected by pre-summer sales spike

It’s safe to say that the global bicycle supply and demand balance is definitely tilted heavily towards the latter at the present time. As the world gets to grips with a new reality, transport habits are changing naturally and sometimes with firm encouragement from Government.

The situation is unprecedented and, while not the circumstances the cycling industry would have chosen to see a boom, many are making hay while the sun shines.

To meet the demand head on, the supply chain has had to get moving again quickly, though for the most part the horse has already bolted and new suppliers have been sought while production lines play catch up.

With greater flexibility in supply than most, Moore Large‘s Adam Garner told CI.N that the distributor has sourced bicycles that are not carried within the current portfolio to ensure sales meet vastly heightened dealer demand. New account openings are said to have been fluid in response to the supplier’s own flexibility. Reflecting the post 2012 Olympics boom, a surge in new businesses registering may already be happening.

“We bought a couple of thousand more from Czech Republic this morning,” he told CI.N late last week “and they’re already selling. Service goods too have surged in tandem”.

As many as 30,000 bicycles have gone through the distributor’s books in recent weeks, which Garner says is easily the highest number for ten years and probably more.

For context, in Q1 of 2019 the UK bike industry’s total imports were not far north of 50,000 units. Data released in August 2019 saw bicycle imports hit their lowest level for a decade, somewhat giving good reason for the supply and demand imbalance we’re now seeing.

From Taiwan, the UK’s imports excluding e-Bikes are down by 31.7% when comparing January to March like-for-like. E-bikes make up some of the slack, rising 52.48% year-on-year, though this growth is likely in part down to harsher tariff rules being placed on neighbouring China’s shipments.

“Leading up to April, except for continued growth in electric bicycle exports, exports of standard bicycles have declined by as much as 30% compared to the same period in previous years. Orders only picked up again in May,” explained Adele Sreeves of TAITRA.

“Since orders placed in May still require lead time on production and delivery, it is perhaps due to this that they have not kept up with the explosive demand growth following the easing of the lockdown in Europe.”

The UK is currently Taiwan’s second largest export customer, behind the USA, taking a total of 33,000 bicycles in Q1 this year. The data does indicate, however, that the UK tends to order either Taiwan’s cheaper cycles, or less e-Bikes, as by value it is sixth on the table. Value has also dropped by 38.49% by value in Q1 of 2020.

Most of Taiwan’s electric bike exports go to the Netherlands, USA and Germany, shows data seen by CI.N.

Cambodia too has been a beneficiary of the trend. The Phnom Penh Post reports that the Asian country exports nearly half a million bicycles to the EU alone, worth around £97.9 million in the first quarter.

“That’s nine million more units than the same period last year,” said the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce.

The tally makes Cambodia the largest exporter of bicycles to the European Union’s member states, much thanks to the duty-free status the country enjoys.

Speaking to local news outlet the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said: “The market can only expand and unfold its potential in the future, as more countries around the world think about developing lanes for bicycles.

“Bicycle exports will continue to increase in the second quarter, buoyed by a heightened aversion to public transport. Cycling as a workout option is also not likely to decline anytime soon.”

To be published on CI.N tomorrow, we have an insider’s view on the bicycle supply and demand problem likely to face Australia, currently heading into its winter, as production priority is most likely to go toward markets currently in their peak summer sales season.


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