UK Bicycle Association Confirms Dramatic Import Decline
CAMBRIDGE, UK – The UK’s Bicycle Association (BAGB) has released its latest batch of three-monthly figures that confirm a dramatic decline in bicycle imports into the country in 2017. Current estimates show volumes declining by 25-30%, with the BA Q3 figures confirming recent Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRS) statistics.
In his summary for members, and quoted in UK’s trade journal Bikebiz, BA Operations Director Steve Garidis said: “Q3 2017 figures show imports are slightly up on Q3 in 2016 both by volume and value, but year to date volume figures are well down on previous years. 2017 is still projected to be 25%+ down on pre-2016 levels, perhaps around the 2.6m unit mark; about 1m units less than the average annual figure between 2010–15.”
The BA also estimated the average value of e-bikes sold in the UK (estimated at 11% of bike import values though only 3% of volume) as GBP 309 or € 346 (suggesting average retail prices of some GBP 800 – € 900), with China the leading country of origin at 44% of e-bike imports.
With e-bikes acknowledged as one of the recent silver linings to a rather gloomy UK bike retail picture this casts a shadow over this area too. Yet anecdotal evidence from long established e-bike retailers in the UK such as 50 Cycles and Wisper suggests that there is still a growing market for high quality e-bikes; the former have recently expanded with shop openings in Bristol and Manchester and the latter have released new details of their own premium-priced Shimano powered e-MTBs for 2018.
It is worth pointing out that HMRC import figures for e-bikes have a troubled history, with those in the trade criticising them as perhaps being both inaccurately high in terms of volume and low in terms of unit value, with suggestions from some that the real value is being underdeclared.
How Much Oversupply?
It seems to be commonly acknowledged within the UK cycle industry that there is an element of previous oversupply, as some BA members reported that the decline in imports had not been matched in a matching decline in sales. The big questions are whether decline is a correction to previous oversupply or a long term trend and also what is the exact value and volume of e-bike sales and whether e-bikes are a bubble that will burst or, again, a long term trend. The results reported by the nation’s biggest bike retailer – Halfords – suggests the latter.