There's plenty of doom and gloom about in the retail sector, but how will the cycle industry fare?

COMMENT: Feeling chipper about the bike trade in 2012

What you probably will be doing ‘round about now is ruminating on the year ahead and what it will hold. I’m not talking about how long the inevitably temporary New Year resolutions will last, but how, in fact, your bicycle business will fare over the next 12 months.

Depending on who you talk to, 2011 was a bit of a mixed bag. Cycle to Work was tweaked, leading to a few nervous moments, but seemed to make a decent recovery in the end. Others say bikes were hard to shift, but sales of accessories were through the roof and more than made up for it.

But what everybody I’ve spoken to seems to agree on, or admit, was that 2011 was the year that the tough economic climate finally made some impact on the trade. How big an impact has it made? As 2011 financials and statistics filter in as the months go by we’ll have a more accurate picture, but I’m willing to predict that the impact hasn’t been as significant as on the rest of the increasingly brittle High Street.

I hope you’ll forgive me for being unashamedly upbeat, but from where I’m standing, there’s plenty of good stuff ahead for the trade. The event of 2012 will undoubtedly be the Olympics, and if we have a few sunny months and maybe some success on the track, road and the courses, who knows how many will be inspired to dust off their cycling skills? Or encourage parents to nurture their little tykes as potential Olympic candidates for the future?

It’s true that the EU is in a state of flux, certainly at time of writing, but at least we can be sure that HMRC won’t want to change Cycle to Work again. Surely?

But it’s not just me who’s mainly chipper about 2012. BikeBiz asked the industry for how they thought this year will pan out (if you’ve not got a copy, why not download or read it online here) and one of the key quotes was, for me, from someone who has been in the industry for far longer than I – two decades in fact (back while I was still in short trousers). He said that it is currently the most exciting time for the bicycle industry in the last 20 years, and that is not something I’m about to argue with. 

Do you think you’d have to be mad to expect a good 12 months ahead for the trade while the High Street is suffering? Or will bikes continue to do well during these tough economic times, with people ditching their car for more journeys? Let us know in the comments below.

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