Good news for cycling apparel as consumers continue to embrace bikes
There was good news for the growing UK cycling clothing and accessories market on Friday with a new Mintel report showing that Britons are continuing to switch on to cycling in large numbers.
The research specialist said over a third of UK adults are now cyclists — a new five-year high — and that 2021 bike sales (including both standard and e-bikes) were estimated to have been £400 million higher than before Covid-19.
While this is very encouraging for companies that specialise in cycling-wear, the fact that so many adults now cycle and that many of them are riding e-bikes also suggests that the wider functional casualwear/outdoor-wear sector should be able to exploit the activity.
The market for cycling clothes has exploded in recent years and this has attracted new entrants into the category. Only last month, Melbourne-based cycling apparel brand Maap opened its first UK office having taken the decision to focus on the British market rather than Europe.
The brand is stocked by Harrods, Mr Porter and Browns, underlining how the cycle clothing market isn’t just about sports and functionality but about luxury too.
Back with the Mintel report, it said that accounting for a quarter of spend on bikes overall, sales of e-bikes reached an estimated £315 million in 2021, up from £275 million in 2020. And many more consumers outside of the core early adopter group (Millennial men) say they’re thinking of buying an e-bike
The growth in wider cycling and e-cycling activity comes even though supply chain issues have prevented some people from getting the bikes and e-bikes that they want.
Of course, while value sales were higher last year than in 2019, they couldn’t top those in 2020 when lockdowns drove a bike boom and led to 3.3 million bike sales compared to an estimated 2.6 million in 2021.
But prices rises of around 20% helped drive the value of the market upwards with total sales of £1.25 billion. And consumers who are prepared to spend more on their bikes are also likely to be those who would spend more on clothing, shoes and accessories to go with their new bikes.
Not that it’s all about extravagant spending, with Mintel saying that the record-high numbers of British adults now cycling could also be linked to the cost-of-living crisis. With rising petrol prices in the the past two months, 57% of people Mintel surveyed mentioned this as a factor in their cycling decisions, and 25% noted the rising cost of commuting.
If they’re buying bikes to save money long term, then the chances are that outerwear purchases will be on their priority shopping lists as they make sure they’re dressed for all weathers.
John Worthington, Senior Analyst at Mintel, said: “Although cycling activity has fallen from the dramatic peak reached during the first few months of Covid-19, the pandemic appears to have provided a lasting boost to the cycling industry.
“Rising petrol prices, and the possibility of a protracted oil crisis as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, could help to ‘nudge’ more people from car travel towards cycling. The cost-of-living crisis, including the recent increase in public transport fares, may encourage more people to ride more often. Our research shows that amongst those working mostly, or entirely, at an out-of-home location, 28% are interested in commuting by bike.”
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