Bicycle imports slumped 61% in the first quarter of this year (compared with Q1 2018), according to the latest import and export data, collated by the Bicycle Association of Great Britain.
While caution has been urged around the figures – import data is limited and provides an incomplete picture of the UK cycle market – the numbers are nevertheless glum reading for the trade. The 61% decline means Q1 2019 is the lowest import figure of any quarter this decade, at 305,000 units. It continues a volume drop seen in Q4 2018.
The BA argues the slump may be due to the natural cycle of the market, currently in a trough, or possibly partly due to Brexit.
In good news for many in the independent sector, average unit values rose, indicating that the value end of the market has possibly been the most affected.
E-bikes now 14% of all bicycle imports (value)
E-bikes also declined, despite value being slightly up (year-to-date), possibly reflecting increased costs relating to switching production from China due to EU anti-dumping measures. Thanks to the rise in value, e-bikes now make up 14% of the total value of all bike imports.
China e-bikes now make up less than one third of e-bike imports, with Taiwan benefiting.
Exports from the UK were down on Q1 2018, however non-EU exports were up again, constituting over 40% of all exports – largely heading to the US, thanks again to tariffs, this time imposed by the US on China’s products.
The notoriously incomplete bicycle import and export data has been the best guide the UK cycle industry has had to the value of the market for decades. Now the BA is launching its own Market Data Service which looks to considerably improve the data available to the trade and authorities.