PARIS, France - After five years of declines, the French bicycle market reversed its downward trend, with a 5.5% increase in sales volume over 2010 and a 6.5% increase in turnover. France moved into third place in the European market, with 3.2 million bicycles sold in 2011, compared to Germany with 4.1 million units, and the UK at 3.5 million bicycles sold.
Mountain bikes for adults comprised 27% of sales volume, well ahead of other categories such as racing and city bikes. Leisure cycling remains the chief reason for cycle purchases, at 62% of total sales.
Turnover was € 850 million for bicycles, as noted, an increase of 6.5% over last year. With parts and accessories included, total turnover reached € 1.35 billion. All segments saw growth, with the exception ‘velos jouets’ or toy bicycles.
Striking is that also the sale of e-bikes in France dropped in 2011; from 38,000 in 2010 to 37,000 last year. Though a minor drop, but not an increase as seen in other European countries.
IBDs main channel for e-bikes
According to the French industry association ‘Conseil National des Professions du Cycle’ (CNPC), the drop in sales of electric bikes is caused by the fact that sports ‘superstores’ (the number one distribution channel in France for bicycles) stopped with the sale of (low priced) e-bikes. In the meantime IBDs are now the main sales channel for electric bikes with a 64% market share.
The CNPC notes in its yearly market report that the low sales number in France for e-bikes stands apart from the growth of this kind of bikes in other EU countries like Germany where in 2011 sales increased by over 50% to 310,000 units.
Folding bikes: new and growing market
In terms of value, adult mountain bikes accounted for a third of sales (32.5%), while racing bikes totaled 25%. Parts and accessories rose 3% and accounted for nearly 40% of total turnover. Sales of city bikes remained stable, while folding bikes, rapidly becoming the poster child for urban mobility, doubled in sales volume compared to 2010, heralding the rise of a new and growing market.
The average price saw a minor increase, rising to € 265 in 2011, against € 262 in 2010, still low compared to Germany (€ 450) and the Netherlands (€ 750). Large sports ‘superstores’ captured 52% of market share, with specialty bike shops claiming 23% of the market. Sales volumes rose 6.5% for the former and 2.5% for the latter. Food stores accounted for the remaining 25% of sales.
Cycleurope, Look, Time, Planet Fun
French manufacturers such as Cycleurope, Look, Time, Planet Fun, and Matra delivered 899,900 bicycles, with 78% destined for the domestic market and 22% headed for export. Over 2.5 million bikes were imported, representing more than 80% of sales and plenty of potential for those manufacturers to build up their share of the domestic market.