Bicycle shop sector trends

(last updated July 2019)

Cycle ownership and use in the UK are on the increase. The government is trying to reduce unnecessary car usage and, at the same time, promote a healthier lifestyle and has launched a number of initiatives in partnership with the industry to encourage people to cycle more. People are becoming more and more interested in health, fitness, sports and leisure activities - and cycling is all of these. In recent years people have also become more concerned about global warming and the harmful effect of carbon emissions on the environment and many have turned to cycling as a mode of transport to help them reduce their carbon footprint. Commuters have also switched to cycling in recent years to reduce costs and avoid inner-city congestion - employers can now take advantage of tax breaks by offering their employees the option to make considerable savings on new bikes and accessories through cycle-to-work schemes. The launch of initiatives like 'Bike to School Week', 'The Big Pedal' and 'Bikeability' may also have boosted cycling among children, in particular cycling to school.

The profile and popularity of cycling in the UK has also been boosted by the recent successes of British riders on the global stage in various disciplines - from road riding, to downhill mountain biking to track cycling. However, the UK still lags behind many other European countries when it comes to cycle use, suggesting that there is plenty of room for further growth despite our decidedly un-cycle-friendly climate!

One of the most important developments for the sector was the launch of the mountain bike, which revolutionised cycling and hugely broadened its appeal. The mountain bike in its various forms is still one of the mainstays of the bicycle market.

Although nothing new has come along that has been as important to the industry as the mountain bike, technology hasn't stood still. Electric bikes - sometimes known as e-bikes or pedelecs - have been developed to take some of the effort out of cycling and are slowly gaining in popularity. 'Hybrid' bicycles (a cross between road and off road bicycles) are a relatively new development and have gained popularity with commuters and other recreational cyclists. Sales of e-bikes have seen good growth in the 2010s.

Keep up to date with developments

Joining a trade association is an excellent way of keeping up with developments in your industry. The Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) represents the interests of bicycle retailers in the UK. For more information visit the ACT website. The ACT also has a specialist information website for retailers called ACT Smart.

BikeBiz is a monthly journal and accompanying industry news website that includes trade statistics and a forum covering all aspects of the bicycle industry.

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