Cycle to work scheme gives local bike shops sales boost

By Sam Dansie | Thursday, September 12, 2013 12.00pm

Up to 44,000 people took advantage of cycle to work schemes in the first half of 2013, which allow employees to buy tax-free bikes through salary sacrifice, says the industry's umbrella organisation.

The Cycle to Work Alliance said it's been the best year to date for the industry since tax changes in 2011 curbed the attractiveness of the programme to participants, which can still save buyers around 40 percent of the of the retail price.

A residual feel good factor from the last year's Olympics and a hot dry summer could have contributed to the healthy performance, Will Nathan, Cycle to Work Alliance's policy advisor told BikeRadar

And today, one the scheme's leading providers, CycleScheme is holding National Cycle to Work Day – an initiative spearheaded by leading paralympian Dame Sarah Storey to get more bums on saddles for the daily commute.

CycleScheme's marketing manager, Laurence Boon confirmed said the average purchase price of a bike through their scheme was £600 and an average certificate price of £750 for participants who opted for extras such as locks and helmets.  

Boon said the programme is a key business generator for local bike shops that participate in the scheme. Besides big numbers of new people joining the scheme in a bid to save on other transport costs and harvest health benefits one in six are signing up again.

He said: "The feedback we've had from the independent bike dealers is that it's not been the greatest year and cycle to work has been a bit of a saviour really."

A couple of LBS owners backed up Boon's view. Dave Folks, owner of Dave's Cycles in Aldridge, near Walsall, said "without doubt" it made a big contribution to annual turnover.

"I'd say 80 percent are signing up [for a commuter bike] 20 percent just want a new bike," he said.  "They tend to take advantage of the £1,000 limit – most people will go right up to that."

Carol Walker who owns Shannons Cycle Centre in York said people tended to increase their spending by a third – similar to the amount participants save by using cycle to work schemes.

She said there was no typical cycle to work customer: "It can be anybody – from somebody who's not ridden for 20 years to someone who rides regularly and just wants to upgrade their bike." 

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