Halfords warns that bike supplies remain low due to lockdowns

Manufacturing has not recovered since the first lockdowns more than 15 months ago

(Image credit: AKP Photos/Alamy)

Halfords has become the latest company within the industry to warn that there remains problems with bike supplies due to Coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

Last spring’s near-worldwide stay-at-home orders impacted the manufacturing of bikes due to factory closures in Asia, where most bike parts are made. 

It led to both small and large bike shops all struggling to cope with increased demand, a trend that has continued into 2021.

Waiting several weeks, sometimes a number of months, to receive a new bike has become the common rule rather than the exception, and it appears like that won’t change any time soon.

 >>> The great bike drought of 2020

Halfords, who sell Boardman and Carrera bikes in its range and is often the de-facto shop and repair workshop for recreational cyclists, reported 54 per cent gain in cycling sales in the April-to-April financial year.

In its annual trading statement, however, Halfords advised that despite a continued higher volume of cycling sales, the future is unclear.

“There are external factors that add uncertainty to our outlook," it reported. "Supply challenges for cycling products remain acute, and a return to normal trading patterns remains highly uncertain.”

The company’s chief executive officer Graham Stapleton said though: “In the longer-term, we remain confident in the future prospects for the UK’s motoring and cycling markets and our ability to compete strongly in both.”

When the UK entered its first of three lockdowns in March 2020, Halfords and other bike shops were permitted to stay open, the Government deciding that they provided an essential service.

Those rules were maintained in subsequent lockdowns and with more people working from home and greater aversion to taking public transport, sales of bikes grew across the globe.

From April to October 2020, bike sales at Halfords were up to 110 per cent higher than the previous corresponding months, but issues with supply chains meant that those figures were not repeated in the second half of the financial year.

Halfords also reported that sales of e-bikes, e-scooters and accessories jumped 94%, reflecting demand seen elsewhere.