Halfords: “UK bike market averaged 4% monthly growth on lockdowns”

Halfords has suggested that it believes the UK bike market to have grown by an average of 4% with each passing month since the first lockdown.

In an optimistically headlined press statement issued today, the retail giant revealed that it had sold 18 bikes for every minute traded over the Christmas period, leading to the press release speculating on the UK overtaking the Netherlands as Europe’s bicycle capital by 2026, if sales continued at the present rate.

Between May and October 2020, the retailer’s cycling sales were 54.1 per cent higher than in the same period of 2019.

While that seems highly unlikely, the numbers put forward by the retail giant suggest that pre-pandemic the UK owned 0.42 bikes per head of the population, but that a recalculation may now be required. The Netherlands, by contrast, have a rate of ownership of 1.35 bikes per head of the population, more than three fold the UK’s tally.

“It may seem unlikely that the UK could ever match Holland for cycling enthusiasts, but we really have seen an astonishing level of uptake in the past 12 months,” said Paul Tomlinson, Halfords Cycling Director. “We’re doing our best to meet demand but when stock reaches our stores it gets snapped up very quickly. We’re working night and day with our suppliers to increase availability.”

The group’s financial statement gave a more grounded view upon release in January. While Halfords enjoyed the UK bike market boom, growing cycle sales 35.4% when comparing Q3, 2020 sales to the year prior, the chief executive Graham Stapleton sounded some caution over the industry’s short-term insurmountable supply challenge, from which Halfords is not immune. The 2020 Christmas period was however the firm’s “best ever”.

Further to the firm’s research, it is suggested that the UK has around seven million neglected cycles that remain fairly dormant. With cycling one of few permitted exercise forms since the emergence of the pandemic Halfords report having seen more than 300,000 bikes brought into store for a free 32-point safety check. Overall 750,000 bikes have gone through the firm’s workshop network since May 2020.