News Article

Unexpected Decline in UK Bicycle Imports

Sales & Trends

LONDON, UK – The latest statistics indicate that bicycles coming into the United Kingdom suddenly declined last year, while export shows a strong growth. According to custom’s records the total bicycle imports were extremely consistent between 2012 and 2015, hovering around 3.5 million units, but for the calendar year 2016 total import units fell to almost 3 million. The actual percentage decrease was almost 11% from 2015 to 2016.

Unexpected Decline in UK Bicycle Imports
UK's bicycle imports dropped by close to 11% in 2016. - Photo Bike Europe

The UK’s Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs office (HMRC) compiles and makes public official figures on the UK bike trade. The figures are based on the commodity code 8712, itself broken down into imports (from outside the EU) and arrivals (within the EU) and exports (outside the EU) and dispatches (within the EU).

Small drop in value

The good news, however, is that the value of total commodity code imports and arrivals dropped by only 1.5%, from around GBP 389 million to GBP 383 million. This suggests that premium value products are selling well.

A breakdown of 2016 total import units show that 87% came from outside the EU and 13% from inside the EU. Around 90% of non-EU imports originated in ‘Asia and Oceania’ according to the HMRC figures.

Strong export figures

Figures from CONEBI (Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry) broadly confirm the overall unit sales of around 3.5 million units for the period 2012 to 2015. The 2017 CONEBI report that gives 2016 figures for the UK market is not yet published, but it will be interesting to see if they mirror the trend given by the HMRC.

UK bicycle export figures for 2016 however were strong on all fronts according to HMRC, with a 13% increase in total export units (i.e. exports outside the EU and dispatches within the EU) and a 7% increase in the value exported.

A full report on the UK bicycle market 2016 will be published in the April edition of Bike Europe.

HMRC Imports en Exports of Bicycles*

Total Import Units*** Value** Average price
2012 3,505,433 GBP 332 million GBP 94
2013 3,376,505 GBP 375.5 million GBP 111
2014 3,630,866 GBP 398 million GBP 109
2015 3,477,244 GBP 389 million GBP 111
2016 3,096,273 GBP 383 million GBP 123
Total Export Units***
2013 346,527 GBP 52.5 million GBP 151
2013 431,258 GBP 64.4 million GBP 149
2014 446,873 GBP 69.1 million GBP 154
2015 473,647 GBP 64.4 million GBP 135
2016 534,238 GBP 69 million GBP 129

* The combined total of imports – from outside the EU – and arrivals – from inside the EU)
** Includes all commodity sub-codes under 8712 main code ‘bicycles and other cycles…not motorised’ so may include some parts and accessories
*** Includes only whole bikes i.e. using Commodity Codes classified as ‘with ball bearings’

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