2014; Year of Recovery For Italian Bike Market
MILAN, Italy – After a difficult 2013, the downturn of the Italian market stopped in 2014. An improving Italian economy as well as a nice spring proved to be the right mix to rekindle the interest of consumers for bicycles and bike products. Bike deliveries to distribution channels increased by 6.4%. E-bike sales were stagnant due to a rapidly changing demand.
Compared to other sectors of the Italian economy the bike market had excellent performance in 2014. Along with a big 6% increase in bike sales, production was up too; by 2.2%.
Sales, production, import & export
In 2014 deliveries to bike dealers and other distribution channels stood at 1,644,592 bicycles (up from 1,542,758 in 2013) and 51,156 e-bikes (down from 51,405). This resulted in a total growth of 6.4%. Bicycle production increased from 2,677,400 in 2013 to 2,737,320 units in 2014; a healthy 2.2% increase.
The Italian bicycle export (excluding e-bikes) remained solid and increased by 1.1% to 1,765,819 units. It confirms that Italy is still a European bicycle production hub. Average value per exported unit stayed at €110.42; about the same level as in 2013. Italy imported 681,684 bicycles in 2014; up 10.4% on the 2013 figure. Average value per imported unit (including e-bikes) decreased strongly to €199.89 (down from €220.85).
Improved market statistics
For the data presented here ANCMA (the National Association for the Bicycle and Motorcycle Industry) has started to cooperate with market researcher GFK Eurisko. With an eye on (among other factors) e-bikes, ANCMA aims at getting better views and deeper analysis of its bike market.
“2014 was a positive year for the whole Italian bicycle industry,” commented Pietro Nigrelli, manager of the ANCMA bicycle department, on last year’s market conditions. “Other Italian industries could not match it. To compare the results with those for the scooters and motorcycle sector; their sales growth stood at only 1.95% in 2014.”
What contributed to the 6% growth of the Italian bicycle market is that cycling is on the rise. And that is not thanks to further growth in racing enthusiasts, which is traditionally big in Italy. Nowadays cycling in cities and urban areas is becoming very normal. With that the quality of regular (city) bikes continues to increase. This is reflected in the high average value of the imported bikes which stood at €199.89 in 2014. It is estimated that the Italians paid around €380.00 for new bicycles at IBDs.
Sales by categories & distribution channels
Looking at sales by categories, no major shifts took place in 2014. City and Trekking continue to lead the market sector with a 32% market share. This is excluding the classic Italian city bike, which has a 9% market share. Mountain bike sales are nearly as big as City/Trekking, with a 31% share of the total market. They continue to be used for mostly leisure. The market share of kid bikes stands at around 18% and road racing bikes, the staple of the Italian industry, take up a healthy 6% part of total sales. The 2014 market share of e-bikes stands at around 4%.
IBD market share
Most bikes in Italy are sold by independent bicycle dealers (IBDs). They account for some 40% of all bikes sold. As dealers sell higher quality bikes, with higher retail prices compared to other channels, their sales are estimated to take up a 55% share of the total market revenue. In 2014 supermarkets and specialized sport supermarkets each sold some 30% of all bikes, but supermarkets are making only 20% of the total revenue. Specialized sports stores get about 25% of the revenue. Despite the fact that dealers are THE major distribution channel in Italy, they continued to lose some important sales quantities to the supermarkets in 2014.
Viewing the dealer business in more detail it shows that their revenue comes mostly from the sale of complete new bikes (47%). Their P&A sales bring in 23% of their revenue and bikewear sales account for 6%. Bike repair and the sale of other goods brings 24% of the total income.
According to ANCMA statistics, e-bike sales reached 51,156 units last year. This is 0.5% down on the 2013 number of 51,405. Electric bike production in Italy, although still small, increased to 8,720 e-bikes in 2014, from 6,200 units in 2013. At the same time e-bike exports decreased to 1,273 units (from 2,859 in 2013). The stagnant e-bike sales in Italy are contrary to the developments in other major European markets like France, where e-bike sales increased by over 70% in 2014.
Stagnant e-bike sales due to ‘Bosch effect’
E-bikes sales did not increase in Italy in 2014. It sounds negative but actually that’s not the case. This is explained by ANCMA’s Pietro Nigrelli who notes, “The e-bike market in Italy is changing radically. It is changing towards higher priced products and it will take some time for the market to get used to the higher price levels.” He calls this the “Bosch effect” pointing to e-bikes that retail for €1,500 and €1,800. ANCMA has started trainings for dealers to service the more expensive e-bikes.