Decathlon says that ongoing fuel shortages in Great Britain have caused a further boost to bike sales, which have risen 119 per cent this month and particularly strong sales of commuter models, up by 194 per cent, which the retailer attributes to people switching to two wheels for their commute.
Since the weekend before last, the media has been full of images of queues at the petrol pumps as reports of shortage led to widespread panic-buying of petrol, with the problem said to be particularly acute in London and the south east.
As a result, Decathlon, which now has 45 stores throughout the UK, says that commuters are looking for alternative ways to travel to work, resulting in growth in sales that have already boomed during the past 18 months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
And in something of a twist given the panic-buying that has exacerbated the fuel shortage, the company says that part of the latest jump in sales of bikes is due to some people buying bikes now in case they are unable to secure one later on – although it stresses that it is not experiencing any shortages.
David Martin, the company’s UK cycling and active travel commercial Leader, said: “We have seen significant spikes in our bike sales over a very short period, which has been impacted by the shortages of available fuel as people seek alternative ways to get to work, and over worries that they won’t be able to get hold of any bikes if they wait too long.
“It is worrying to see so much panic buying happening across the UK, however customers can rest assured that Decathlon is here to support those looking for alternative travel methods and that there is no shortage of bikes at Decathlon,” he added.
Recent figures from the Department for Transport revealed that there had been a 26 per cent increase in the number of cycling trips last year, with cyclists collectively riding two thirds further than the distance they did in 2019.
In large part that was due to the impact of lockdown, when cycling outdoors whether for essential trips such as commuting or shopping, as well as daily exercise, was one of the few reasons people could be outside their home.
Online retailer Wiggle said last week that while that had been a major factor behind booming sales, so too was an expansion of the kinds of bikes that are now available.
The company’s head buyer for bikes, Jonathan Hunter, said: “The booming popularity of cycling is hugely positive for many reasons.
“Not only is it good news for the nation’s health and fitness, but we all know that there have long been too many cars on the road, and too many needlessly taken carbon-fuelled trips.
“Cycling offers so many physical and psychological benefits. It gives us time to see our surroundings differently, and to enjoy travel – not just to endure it as a chore.
“While the lockdowns no doubt contributed to 2020’s soaring cycling numbers, innovation within the industry has also been a contributing factor.
“With new styles of bike exploding in popularity, particularly go-anywhere gravel bikes, cycling has become more accessible and a much more attractive alternative to sitting in a fuel-hungry metal box.”
He continued: ““As long-time a cyclist myself, I’m delighted to see so many new riders take up life on two-wheels.
“We’ve worked hard over many years to ensure we’re catering for everything serious cyclists need for a rewarding cycling experience. This has included offering expert advice and stocking the latest innovations and technologies that have revolutionised the sport over the past 20 years.
“Whether Wiggle has played a part in this explosion in popularity is for others to decide, but we’re delighted to see the change which should be welcomed by everyone,” he added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.