Two wheels good … Bike gross sales soar as UK takes to biking


Tlisted here are few excessive road companies reporting bumper commerce within the coronavirus lockdown, however bicycle outlets are promoting out as quickly as new inventory is delivered and are swamped with demand to overtake previous bikes.

Massive chains and impartial cycle outlets, which have been allowed to maintain their doorways open as a vital service whereas the remainder of the excessive road is shut, admit they’ve been taken without warning.

“It’s been the busiest interval of buying and selling I’ve had in 27 years,” mentioned Andy Rackstraw, proprietor of Saddle Safari in south Buckinghamshire.

Rackstraw’s staff has been working three shifts – together with by way of the evening – to deal with demand for brand new bike builds and upkeep jobs whereas making certain bodily distancing to maintain workers protected. He has a ready listing of 300 restore jobs, and bike gross sales tripled in April in contrast with the identical time final yr.

“I’ve by no means skilled it like this,” mentioned Steve Pettitt of Steve’s Cycles in Hull. “My restore jobs have doubled at the least. Folks have been bringing bikes in which have been behind the storage for years.”

He mentioned gross sales of equipment equivalent to helmets and saddles have been additionally going nicely as dad and mom took kids out on the street. “You’re truly seeing households out collectively,” he mentioned.

A mix of quieter roads, extra free time, good climate and, for a lot of, the realisation {that a} cycle is their most suitable choice for attending to work within the coming months, prompted a surge of greater than 50% in bike gross sales in April, in keeping with early indications from a survey by the Bicycle Affiliation commerce physique. It mentioned seven out of 10 consumers are new or returning cyclists, an entire reversal to current developments.

New bike gross sales on eBay tripled final month, and gross sales of secondhand machines have been up 23% on the identical time final yr.

Previously month, shares in Halfords, the UK’s greatest cycle retailer, have shot up almost 80%after the retail group mentioned gross sales of bikes have been double regular ranges.

Wiggle, the net biking and operating retailer that has grow to be a giant participant within the UK market, mentioned its bikes gross sales within the UK had elevated by 192% for the reason that begin of lockdown.

One impartial retailer mentioned his wholesale provider had cleared its complete annual inventory in 4 weeks.

Graham Stapleton, the chief government of Halfords, mentioned the consumers weren’t the standard “mamils” – middle-aged males in lycra. “We’ve seen a giant progress within the variety of feminine prospects,” he mentioned, “and youthful, under-35s shopping for bikes.”

For years a lot of the progress available in the market has come from costly street bikes favoured by these “mamils”, whereas gross sales of commuter and household bikes have been pedestrian.

However previously few weeks household and commuter-friendly hybrid bikes costing lower than £1,000 have been racing out of shops. Halfords’ gross sales of hybrid bikes have doubled and demand for bikes by way of the federal government’s Cycle to Work low cost scheme has soared. Electrical bike gross sales have additionally accelerated as older folks search for a substitute for public transport or a automobile.

Stapleton mentioned Halfords nonetheless had bikes accessible and shares have been enhancing, however on account of “unprecedented demand, which has been troublesome to forecast” the chain had bought out of some under-£1,000 grownup fashions, which meant “there may be going to be short-term problem with availability”.

He mentioned Halfords had thought of bringing in bikes by air, however this had proved too costly, and the corporate was bringing in new inventory from Turkey and Europe that might arrive sooner than from its ordinary south-east Asian sources.

A number of cycle retailers mentioned shares of cheaper grownup bikes from key manufacturers, together with Trek, Specialised and Raleigh, had nearly run out throughout the nation.

Kirsty Woodcock, head of UK advertising and marketing at Specialised, mentioned there was no scarcity of bikes, simply supply delaysas a results of the elevated demand, and the corporate was working further shifts at its UK warehouse to get extra bikes out on the street.

There are additionally considerations about provides of some cycle elements on account of the demand to restore older bikes.

“There’s most undoubtedly an issue dealing with the commerce for the time being and that’s provide points,” mentioned Paul Walker, proprietor of cycle elements and equipment distributor Hykeham Wholesale primarily based in Lincoln.

Walker mentioned he was struggling to supply sufficient inside tubes after gross sales of some sorts soared 600% final month, whereas gross sales of motorbike helmets have been up greater than fivefold and cycle restore kits up 400% as households ready to get out on the street.

“It’s gone completely loopy. I’ve performed three months of gross sales in a month. It was actually sudden. It seems like this month will probably be comparable – or it might be if I nonetheless had shares to promote,” mentioned Walker.

Weldtite, the Lincolnshire-based maker of cycle restore kits, is taking up 30% extra workers and has arrange short-term buildings to increase manufacturing because it struggles to deal with world demand. Biking is being promoted worldwide as a approach to get round with much less threat of catching coronavirus.

However cycle retailers are uncertain if the frenzy of curiosity will probably be a blip that could possibly be worn out as provides of bikes dwindle over the summer time and drivers return to their vehicles.

Hopes for lasting change within the UK obtained a lift when the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, unveiled a £2bn package deal “to place biking and strolling on the coronary heart of our transport coverage”. Transport for London has additionally unveiled plans for cycle-only roads and bridges within the capital to assist Londoners keep away from public transport.

The federal government has additionally mentioned it can challenge vouchers for a whole lot of hundreds of cycle repairs to assist get an estimated 7m unused bicycles within the UK out of the shed. The Bicycle Affiliation is hoping the UK will observe France’s instance with vouchers value £50 per individual launching subsequent month.

Stapleton mentioned he thought the cycle growth wouldn’t trickle away: “I believe a few of it will proceed. Folks want bikes to get to work as a result of there isn’t every other possibility.”

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Cycle to work schemes

Bike-to-work schemes are a well-liked method to purchase a brand new bike, helmet and different equipment as a result of they provide a saving of between 25% and 39%, with the price merely deducted from an worker’s month-to-month pay.

Most corporations of any dimension now supply this as a workers profit. Staff who enroll are given a voucher which they take right down to their native bike store and use it to purchase their chosen bicycle, plus different gadgets equivalent to lights or clothes.

The financial savings come by way of the truth that workers don’t pay revenue tax or nationwide insurance coverage on the acquisition value. In actuality, your employer truly buys a motorbike for you, and also you “rent” it again making a month-to-month funds out of your gross (pre-tax) wage – usually over 4 years. Fundamental charge taxpayers – incomes lower than £50,000 a yr – save 1 / 4 on the bike and equipment’ value. Increased charge taxpayers save much more.

Somebody opting to purchase a £500 commuting bike, a lock, a helmet and a water-proof jacket – spending £600 in complete, would see their wages fall by round £34 a month for a yr. That assumes they earn £30,000 a yr. In complete, they might save £150 over a standard buy. The next charge taxpayer would save £210 over the upfront £600 buy.

Initially, there was a £1,000 restrict on bike-scheme purchases, however this was scrapped to permit customers to purchase costlier fashions.

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