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‘Everyone wants to be on a bike’ - bicycle shops’ sales rise tenfold in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 June 2020

The team outside Pedal Revolution in Norwich who have experienced their busiest 12 weeks on record during the pandemic. Pictrue: Neil Turner

The team outside Pedal Revolution in Norwich who have experienced their busiest 12 weeks on record during the pandemic. Pictrue: Neil Turner

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Bike shops have seen a tenfold increase in sales and people coming to them for repairs, but will the trend last? We spoke to some of Norwich’s bike shops to get their thoughts on the current cycling boom.

People out cycling and exercising in Eaton Park during lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPeople out cycling and exercising in Eaton Park during lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Neil Turner, one of the owners of Pedal Revolution, which has stores in Norwich and Gorleston-on-Sea, said their shops had experienced their busiest 12 weeks on record.

He said: “We have worked really hard with the team and the staff have been absolutely fantastic, we have rearranged the shop for social distancing and they’re really happy to get servicing for us.”

Mr Turner said the shop had seen a huge increase in the number of people digging out old bikes and bringing them into the store for repairs to make them road worthy again.

“We have seen so many bikes that have been neglected for years and people saying ‘can you just fix this and that for me?’ We’ve just been so impressed by our team who have literally just given 100pc.”

Neil Turner. Picture: Pedal RevolutionNeil Turner. Picture: Pedal Revolution

Mr Turner said he was optimistic that all those who had started or returned to cycling during lockdown would keep doing so after the pandemic, a trend the business hoped to encourage with its social enterprise and Tour de Broads Rallyé Events which are returning to Norfolk later this year.

“Something really good is coming out of this really tough time, 99pc of our customers get that we’re trying to get them riding and keep them riding, it’s been hard work but worth it.

“What we need to do is just encourage people to keep riding,” he said.

Richard Freeman, who owns Freeman’s Cycles in Heigham Street, Norwich, said the family-run business, which has been in the city for more than 100 years, was normally busy heading into the summer but that 2020 was exceptionally so.

Freeman Cycles in Norwich which has been in the city for more than 100 years. Picture: Google MapsFreeman Cycles in Norwich which has been in the city for more than 100 years. Picture: Google Maps

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“We’re very, very busy, new bikes, old bikes - normally this time of year is busy anyway but it’s even more busy [this year].”

He said he had seen spikes in cycling popularity before, most recently in 2012, and expected the boom to subside as life returned to normal.

“We have seen ups and downs before, the last big up was in 2012 after Bradley Wiggins and the Tour de France, then it took a massive dive. Now what will happen is a couple of years down the line it will pick up again.”

Mr Freeman said he expected the current popularity to cycling to last into next year.

“The same thing happened in the 1970s, people wanted bikes because of petrol prices. If it’s something to with the world there’s always a knock on effect with bikes. Bikes are always going to be there as a form of transport,” he said.

And the manager at Mandarin Cycles in Norwich, who asked not to be named, echoed Mr Turner and Mr Freeman’s views, and said sales have been tenfold, keeping the Penn Gove store busy.

“We have stopped doing repairs because we have been so busy, everybody out there wants a new bike. Since people were told they could do their one hour of exercise everyone in Norwich wants to be riding a bike, he said.”

He said he expected sales to gradually start to return to normal in the coming weeks but hoped those who had bought bikes during the pandemic would keep cycling.

“It will peter out soon. It’s getting slower but I think in the next couple of weeks it’s going to go back to normal. I think once things get back to normality, not as many people will ride bikes but I think the people who have bought bikes to go to work on or to not use public transport will keep cycling.

“A lot of it depends on how long coronavirus goes on for, if more and more people are going to keep cycling to work and keep off public transport then I think that will keep us busy,” he said.


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