News Article

Sweden 2012: Rapidly Shifting Towards Sportive Bikes

Sales & Trends

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – The Swedish bike market has always been typified as rock solid, with annual sales numbers only changing marginally. But the 2012 season started with increased average prices and record-breaking sales figures in March and April. In the end around 525,000 bicycles were sold in 2012, an increase of 4% compared with 2011.

Sweden 2012: Rapidly Shifting Towards Sportive Bikes

The market in Sweden has been changing rapidly, towards more sportive and modern-styled 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 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 is making its entrance. Sweden’s key brands are reporting a drastic increase in sales of 29er mountain bike models. IBD’s reported that by early May the 29ers were sold out and particularly in the high end segment, the 29ers were more popular than the 26 inch bikes.

The bicycle market in Sweden

2011* 2012*
Production around 115,000 around 115,000
Import 377,000 416,000
Export 49,032 76,000
Total sales 504,000 525,000

* estimates

Cycling all year

Bike usage is increasing in Sweden. The association of IBDs, distributors and importers – Svensk Cykling, notes that the new trend is to use a bike all year-round in a country with long and cold winters. Most consumers are using the bike for commuting, or to go to school. But there’s also a growing interest in cycling for sports and for leisure.

Sweden’s big midsummer road race, Vätternrundan, with more than 23,000 participants, was fully booked again last year. And when the MTB-race – CykelVasan – opened up for registration for the next edition, it sold out in just 26 minutes; despite the fact that the organizers doubled the number of participants from 6,000 to 12,000.

The number of cyclists using a bike for commuting increased by 80% in Stockholm, compared to 10 years ago. A recent survey by an insurance company shows that one out of five cyclists is using their bike for commuting during summer time, while 13% are using the bike year-round. However, the Swedish politicians don’t seem to notice this trend, as the country’s cycling infrastructure is not following the trend.

The Swedish bike market got acquainted with electric bicycles for first time in 2010. TV commercials, as well as ads for e-bikes from companies outside the bike industry increased the number of e-bikes sold. However, while market growth by percentage is substantial, the number of e-bikes sold in Sweden is still low.

In 2012 some 6,500 e-bikes were imported, approximately 1.2% of the total bicycle market in volume. Market growth is expected to pick up rapidly as soon at the quality of bikes becomes more stable and prices will go down thanks to larger volumes. The Swedish also have to get to know the e-bike, as this type of bicycles is still relatively unknown among the people.

Sweden’s changing market trends is also attracting new suppliers. The Swedish market is heading in the same direction as the bicycle market in Norway, which is dominated by retail chains. Currently IBDs sell 63% of the market volume, while the mass-markets business represent 37% of the total market.

The largest sporting goods vendor in the Swedish market – Stadium, has always been a small player in the Swedish cycle market. However, recently they decided to enter the market with their own brand Occano. Only two years ago, Norwegian XXL opened up its first shop in Stockholm, supported by a massive promotion campaign. Currently XXL is operating eight shops in Sweden, selling sporting goods as well as bikes and bike products. XXL’s aim is to expand to 50 shops within 10 years.

Another major player in the market is Team Sportia who strengthened its presence as one of the major cycle sellers by acquiring the Sportex bicycle chain. Usports is another entrant in the market. They opened up their first shop at the end of October 2011 in the southern Swedish city of Malmö.

In 2012 Decathlon also entered the Swedish market. Decathlon is aiming for 10 shops within the next three years. Some of the strong IBDs are Cykloteket, Cykel City, and Sportson. The question is not only who will gain or lose from this fierce competition, but also how IBDs will cope with the rivalry of the big box shops and chain stores.

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