Sweden’s Bike Market Sees Continued Growth
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Cycling is growing in popularity in Sweden. A recent survey published by trade association ‘Svensk Cykling’ indicates that 19% of all Swedes use bicycles at least four times a week to commute to school, work, or shopping.
Also, cycling for fitness and recreation is on the rise as a sizable 44% of the population uses bikes for such purposes at least once a week. The growing usage of bikes in Sweden – even in winter time – is reflected in the sales numbers. Svensk Cykling (Swedish Cycling) calculated that in the 2012/2013 season some 555,000 new bicycles were sold in Sweden. This is up 3% on the 2011 total of 540,000 units sold. For years now, the number of bikes sold in Sweden is slowly but surely growing.
The Bicycle Market in Sweden
Sources: Svensk Cykling, Eurostat, Stian Steen-Olsen, Stians Sport AS/Merida Sverige AB
Much bigger than the growth rate of bike purchases, is what Swedes are spending when buying bicycles. This is noted by Klas Elm, President of the trade association Svensk Cykling. He estimates that the amount of money used for buying bikes has increased by about 8% for a couple of years in a row. But, this is not reflected by the value per imported bicycle into Sweden. This value shows a much greater increase than 8%.
In 2012, Sweden imported 347,945 bicycles from countries outside Europe. That number is (like bike sales) slightly up over 2011; a 2.4% increase. However, value-wise imports grew by 13.7%. The average value per imported bike stood at € 120.76 in 2012, compared to € 106.18 in 2011.
Trade association President Klas Elm attributes the growing amount of money Swedes spent on buying bikes to increased familiarity. “Cycling has become a natural part of everyday life. With that we become more quality-conscious and knowledgeable on bicycles. Due to that we buy more quality bikes, while we also spend more on accessories.”
This trend is confirmed by IBDs such as the Sportson group. This is a retail chain consisting of 22 shops. The company is experiencing a steady turnover increase for some years now. Sportson President Lars Haglund says, “Foremost we sell more expensive bikes, but there’s also a clear increase of P&A sales as well as workshop activities.” He also points to the fact that bikes are now being bought in Sweden for fitness and health’s sake and not just as a cheap means of transport.
MTBs and e-bikes
Mountain bikes and hybrids for commuting are getting more and more popular, taking market shares from the traditional “basket bikes” equipped with a 3 or 7 speed internal gear hub. This type of bicycle used to be the standard choice for most cyclists and dominated the Swedish market for a long period.
Now mountain bikes are taking over the market and the latest trends in this segment are also emerging in the Swedish market. As in many other European countries, the 29er made its entrance last year and is now out-selling 26 inch MTBs as Sweden’s key brands are reporting a drastic increase in sales of 29er mountain bike models.
That other new trend in bikes – electric assist – is still relatively unknown among the Swedes. Bike brands such as Merida are organizing test tours around the country, in order to get people acquainted with e-bikes. This is taking place in 2013, which will undoubtedly have its effects. As well, sales are expected to pick up rapidly as soon at the quality of bikes becomes more stable and prices will go down, thanks to larger volumes. In 2012 some 6,500 e-bikes were imported into Sweden.
Currently IBDs sell 63% of the market volume, while the mass-markets business represent 37% of the total market. Among IBDs more retail chains are emerging like the aforementioned Sportson group, with its 22 shops. Other strong IBDs are Cykloteket and Cykel City.
They are faced with increased competition from, not least of all, Decathlon. The sporting goods retail giant entered the Swedish market in 2012 and is aiming for ten shops within the next three years. Stadium is Sweden’s biggest in sporting goods, but this retail chain has never been able to grow its success to the same highs in bikes. But Stadium is now giving its bike sales a big push, as they recently decided to enter the market with their own brand – Occano.
Another distributor to be reckoned with is XXL from Norway. That company opened its first shop in Stockholm in 2010. Now they operate eight shops in Sweden, selling sporting goods, as well as bikes and bike products. XXL’s aim is to expand to fifty shops within ten years. These developments indicate that the Swedish bike market is heading in the same direction as the bicycle market in Norway, which is dominated by retail chains.