UK cycling market now worth £2.15bn

By Richard Peace, in Yorkshire, England | Monday, December 13, 2010 11.15am

The UK cycling market has expanded rapidly over the past couple of years and is now worth over £2.15 billion, new research suggests.

That means that, on average, UK residents spend £35 each on cycling kit every year. Of course, many people either don't cycle or (in the case of children) don't spend money on it, so the figure per cyclist will be much higher.

For their Project Velo report, Allegra Strategies looked at consumer spending on bikes and accessories. They estimate that by 2015, the value of the market will exceed £3 billion – and that doesn't include money spent on things like cycling holidays and race entries.

Allegra reckon that by the end of 2010, some four million bikes will have been sold in the UK – a huge increase over previous years. They say retail sales growth overall has exceeded 15 percent in the past 12 months.

The average price of an adult bike has apparently topped £350 for the first time, and this isn't just down to increased materials/components costs and weak sterling –  it's also because of increased demand for more expensive machines. Six percent of bikes sold in the past year cost over £1,000.

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The report cites a number of factors for the rise in cycling spending. These include increased fuel and motoring costs which, along with the Cycle to Work scheme (a salary sacrifice system giving employees a substantial discount on bike purchase), have encouraged the use of bikes for commuting and attracted new cyclists.

In fact, more than 50 percent of Cycle to Work vouchers are used by people who are new to the sport. More women are apparently taking to two wheels because of the fitness benefits, and the rise of electric bikes is expected to convert more people to (electrically assisted) pedal power.

Bike Europe figures show that UK cycle sales (not including accessories) bobbed around at between 3.3 and 3.5 million for the five years up to 2008 (the last year statistics are available for). There were reports of a boom in 2009, with increased demand and stock shortages. However, organisations were divided over how much the market was worth that year – Halfords said £350m, Mintel said £282m and the Association of Cycle Traders said £750m-£1bn.

Halfords is still the UK’s largest bike retailer, with 14 percent of the market. Online store Chain Reaction Cycles is now the second largest, with a 90 percent increase in growth, while the Evans chain is the fastest growing High Street retailer.

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