Steady Bike Market in Norway
OSLO, Norway – The bicycle season in Norway made a very slow start due to cold spring weather. Later in the summer the market did not manage to make up for the earlier losses. The Norwegian Sporting Goods Association (Sportsbransjen AS) estimates the total market for 2015 at 400,000 units, down 2.5% from 410,000 units last year.
Taking into account the fact that Norway has only five million inhabitants, the market volume of 400,000 units is still solid. For many years the most popular category of bicycles in Norway has been the mountain bike with a total market volume of 130,000 units in 2015. Nevertheless the market for MTBs declined this year, by approximately 10,000 units.
In Norway MTBs are not only used for sports but often to commute, but this market is shifting towards trekking and hybrid-styled bikes. In the past few years fat bikes were in demand, but the market seems to have lost interest in this category.
Sales of road race bikes up
Another factor is that people who before may have participated in the Birken MTB (an annual long-distance mountain bike cycling race) event have instead started to compete in triathlon. This may explain why the sales of road race bikes are up 5,000 units to 25,000. Classic bikes are still popular, especially in the biggest cities, and are often used for commuting. The market for e-bikes is still very small. Despite a lot of media exposure, no more than 20,000 units were sold in 2015. But dealers and suppliers report that people are interested paying more for these kind of bikes compared to regular bikes. In these categories demand for high-end bikes is even down a little bit.
For the newly elected city government of Oslo, biking is a priority. They want to build a lot of new bike-lanes and make Oslo City Centre free of cars. To increase electric bike use the politicians have even said they will even sponsor people who buy an e-bike. However they have not yet explained how this should be arranged.
Retailers small and large
The biggest retailers in Norway when it comes to bicycles as well as other sporting goods are XXL and G-MAX/G-Sport. They run big stores around the country and sell their own private bike-brands as well as well-known A-brands. Thanks to the tough competition it is difficult for small retailers to survive.
Other leading parties when it comes to distribution are Stians Sport who is responsible for Merida in Norway (and Sweden) and Ramo, which is handling Scott bikes in Norway. The Norwegian sporting goods business is still doing well. According to Sportsbransjen AS, the total turnover in first half of this year increased by 8% to 5.8 billion NOK (€620 million). At the same time several smaller retailers have had to close their business, as they can’t keep up the competition with the retail chains.
The main challenge for the Norwegian market will be to content with the depreciation of the Norwegian Krone (NOK) versus the US dollar, by more than 30% compared to October 2014. This makes it very difficult for many importers, not only in the bike industry, to gain some revenue. The market is now waiting to see how the retail chains will response to the inevitable price increases in an effort to meet the troublesome dollar exchange rate.
Morten Dahl is editor of magazine SPORT in Norway