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Halfords hails “astonishing levels of uptake” with 18 bikes sold every minute over Christmas

Retailer says if current growth in cycling market is sustained, the UK will overtake the Netherlands in terms of bikes per head by 2026

Halfords has said that “astonishing levels of uptake” of cycling since the coronavirus pandemic began resulted in it selling 18 bicycles a minute over Christmas – adding that if the current rate of growth in sales of bikes continues, the UK could overtake the Netherlands as Europe’s “bicycle capital” within five years.

The company, which sells more bikes than anyone else in the UK, says that since the first national lockdown came into force at the end of March last year, the value of the cycling market has grown by 4 per cent each month, on average.

There is no sign of that growth slowing down either, according to the retailer, as people get in the saddle for exercise, leisure and everyday trips such as commuting, says Halfords, which saw cycling sales rise by 54.1 per cent between May and October compared to the previous year, with particularly strong growth in sales of e-bikes.

> Cycling sales continue to boom at Halfords, with strong growth at Tredz too

It points out that prior to the COVID-19 crisis, there were 0.42 bicycles per capita in the UK, compared to 1.35 in the Netherlands – and if the current rate of growth in the market were sustained, would overtake it by 2026.

“It may seem unlikely that the UK could ever match Holland for cycling enthusiasts, but we really have seen an astonishing level of uptake in the past 12 months,” commented Halfords’ cycling director, Paul Tomlinson.

“We’re doing our best to meet demand but when stock reaches our stores it gets snapped up very quickly” he added.

“We’re working night and day with our suppliers to increase availability. We’re encouraging customers to subscribe to our ‘email me when back in stock’ service which is proving extremely popular.”

Last year, research commissioned last year by Halfords found that there were more than 7 million bikes left unused in sheds and garages, and after launching its Get Back On A Bike campaign in May it says that more than 300,000 people have brought their bikes into its branches to have a free 32-point check.

The company, which is also participating in the government’s Fix Your Bike scheme in England, says that in all it has repaired or serviced 750,000 bicycles in recent months.

Simon joined 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.

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robike | 3 years ago

I wonder why they are shutting my most convenient store in Cowley, Oxford?

Muddy Ford | 3 years ago

IMO the easiest and most effective safety initiative that could be implemented to protect all these new cyclists is a law change that sets a proper deterrent to dangerous drivers. Ensure heavy financial penalties are given to motorists for dangerous driving, which could include impounding their vehicles and removing their licences. If they need to travel they will have to get a bike or use public transport. All police forces must sign up to the close pass initiative, no exceptions. It should be made harder to reject close pass evidence than to accept it, the police always take the easy option. Let the perpetrator have to take the tough steps to prove it was not a close pass. I expect most video evidence submitted is hard to dispute. This will do far more benefit than cycle lanes. The dangerous drivers need to learn there is no place for them in a civilised society.

jasecd replied to Muddy Ford | 3 years ago

I'm with you all the way except this being of more benefit than cycle lanes. It's not an 'either or' and proper infrastructure will be essential to getting more people to continue to cycle long term. There are many, many A and B roads which are hostile to cyclists, mostly due to the volume of and speed differential with motorised traffic - these need at least a shared use path next to them (as is commonplace in Netherlands and Germany) and dedicated cycle lanes in towns and cities.

Muddy Ford replied to jasecd | 3 years ago

I'm not against cycle lanes but there is so much negativity and anti-cyclist sentiment agitated when a cycle lane is added, even the temporary ones, that I am more anxious when I'm out on my bike expecting the inevitable twat in a car to dish out their stirred up anger against me. Get the penalties imposed so people know their dangerous driving has serious consequences for them, then implement the lanes. 

justDave | 3 years ago

Our record is likely to be bikes per shed rather than bikes per head - it is bike use that matters, not ownership. The same boom was seen at the beginning of the mountain bike craze. Sales of bikes which are then not used will just be a blip in the market, not a sustainable future for the bike industry.

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