GENT, Belgium (BRAIN)—Business for European bicycle dealers started turning around late in the first quarter of the year after many experienced falling sales in 2009, according to a study released last Friday by the European Twowheel Retailers’ Association (ETRA).
The EU Bicycle Market Report says that 2010 is expected to finish ahead of last year due to several trends working in favor of retailers. One is the development of mobility centers. Peugot, for instance, is looking at offering bike, scooter and moped rentals at all 3,000 of its dealerships in France after seeing the success of the Velov and Velib bike share programs. One potential threat to IBDs is the fact that more car dealers are starting to sell e-bikes, however that threat should not be considered significant, ETRA said.
“Mechanics do not necessarily want to deal with bikes and often end up giving up on them. Also, due to dealership constraints, car dealers usually don’t have access to top bicycle brands,” the report said.
ETRA examined full-year 2009 and early 2010 sales and turnover results for dealers in each of the seven EU countries it represents:
—In France, sales were down 30 percent through October, but increased at the end of the year, ending with a deficit of 9 percent. Turnover fell 4.5 percent. E-bikes were one bright spot with a sales increase of 60 percent last year. Unit sales remain relatively small at around 23,000 annually. City bikes represent 25 percent of the French bike market.
—Total units sold in the Czech Republic increased from 370,000 in 2008 to 380,000 last year with 65 percent of the sales occurring through the country’s 800 IBDs.
—Denmark’s units fell slightly in 2009, dropping from 543,000 in 2008 to 520,000 last year. Its IBD share remained stable at about 63 percent. The popularity of e-bikes is rising in Denmark too, where the share of total bicycle sales increased to 2 percent in 2009 from 1.5 percent in 2008 and .5 percent in 2007. The year started off poorly due to bad weather conditions, but ETRA expected sales and turnover in Denmark to be back on par with 2009 by the end of April.
—In the Netherlands, sales of bikes have dropped 5 percent in units since the beginning of the year, and the average value has dropped by about €50 to €100 per bike. However, turnover has increased 5 percent since the beginning of the year due to the proportion of e-bikes sold. Right now average selling price of bicycles is €700 to €900. The average price for e-bikes in the Netherlands is €1,950. The study says that cheaper e-bikes were tested in the market, but rejected. Sales of bikes with a front basket are also increasing and lifestyle bikes are a best selling category in the Netherlands.
—ETRA did not provide specific numbers for Belgium, Germany or the U.K., but said that business started off slow in the U.K. during the first months of 2010. Sales seemed to have bounced with the start of spring. In Germany, 2009 was a good year, the report said, but sales were just average during the first quarter of 2010. Sales for the whole of 2010 were expected to be about the same as last year. Last year was an excellent year in Belgium, and even though sales slowed from December 2009 through February of this year, business picked back up in March.
ETRA represents 5,000 companies in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom who employ 11,000 people.