It will take until 'at least 2025' to beat Covid bike sales downturn, new report suggests

Industry surplus and low demand continue to dog the cycle industry, with 2023 UK sales figures lowest this century

A salesperson is pointing to bikes on two levels to a customer in a bike shop
(Image credit: GettyImages)

It will likely take at least until 2025 for the British bike industry to correct itself, according to a new report by the Bicycle Association. The prediction came as part of its annual report, which showed the poorest sales of mechanical bikes this century, with the industry still struggling with post-Covid overstock and low demand.

"Despite widespread price discounting, consumer demand is subdued and the industry remains heavily over-stocked. It is likely to take until at least 2025 to correct the imbalance between supply and demand," the BA said in a press-release accompanying its report.

The Bicycle Association is a national trade association for the UK cycle industry. Highlights from its new report were revealed at a Bicycle Association conference in Birmingham last week, where a live poll of delegates also supported the view that there was longer to wait for the industry to turn around.

Mechanical bike sales fell 5% last year, according to the report, which follows an 18% drop in 2022 and amounts to a total 33% below 2019 levels. Not all mechanical bike genres saw a decline though, with road and gravel bikes enjoying sales increases of 8% and 11% compared to 2022. Children's bikes saw the biggest fall, with an 8% decline.

E-bike sales also fell last year, with a 7% decline. Unlike mechanical bike sales though, sales of e-bikes remain well up on 2019 (pre-covid) figures.

Last year also saw mechanical bikes lose even more ground to their battery-powered brethren in terms of market share, with e-bikes now claiming 9% of volume share and 31% of value of the total market.

The BA predicted a challenging first few months of this year, saying: "While the first few months of 2024 are expected to be difficult, volumes are forecast to grow in the low to mid-single digits between 2024 to 2026."

At the end of last year Cycling Weekly reported on how bike sales had hit an historic low, driven by the cost of living crisis.

More recently, however, major discounts appeared to have stimulated growth in the industry, with Paul Davies of market research firm Mintel intimating that, “A recovery in demand is now underway."

The Bicycle Association report indeed tallies with this prediction, although the recovery looks as though it will be a gradual one.

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