The UK cycle market is braced for a record year of sales as the recession bites and people look to switch to more sustainable modes of transport.
The Association of Cycle Traders says business has soared to unprecedented levels with 20 percent sales increases from this time last year.
And bike shops are predicting even further further increases as the Met office forecasts a hot and sunny summer with more Britons planning on spending their holidays at home.
Industry sales figures show the overall like-for-like annual sales growth in April was 19.4 percent following the 22.6 percent growth reported in March.
Mark Brown, director at the Association of Cycle Traders, said the stunning figures reflected a surge in both commuter and leisure cyclists.
He said: “Much of the growth in sales and bicycle usage is in the commuter and leisure cycling category. The Government backed cycle to work tax incentive scheme will enable the supply of over 75,000 bikes during 2009, and the majority of these will be via local specialist cycle retailers.
“As ever in the UK the weather is a major influence. Both March and April benefited from good weather and with the Met Office forecasting a dry summer, and with more people staying at home for their holidays and breaks, we are confident we will see record sales and bicycle usage this year.”
The UK bicycle retail sector is estimated to be worth £1bn at retail value. The sector is dominated by 2000 independent specialist cycle retailers with market share of between 45 and 50 percent. Halfords has approximately 30 percent market share with the remainder being held by supermarkets, toy shops, mail-order and sports retailers.
Brown added: “Sales growth in March and April is at 20 percent and unprecedented in the context of both the economic situation, which has impacted lifestyle spending, and being ahead of the usual peak summer season which generally does not get underway until mid-late April.
“We estimate that bicycles make up 45% of sales in the sector, with the remainder attributed to a wide range of parts, accessories and clothing plus increasing sales of specialist workshop services as more and more people return to cycling as well as taking a more frugal approach by keeping current bikes rolling for longer.”
The market figures were sourced from 273 independent cycle retailers and workshops throughout the UK, ranging in size from annual turnovers of £50k to £2.5m.