South Downs Bikes on its new store, Covid impacts and busy shop floors

Rebecca Morley speaks to South Downs Bikes’ Aaron Creamer

This piece first appeared in the February edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

Bike shops will always be a vital part of the cycling industry despite rising online sales, providing expert knowledge and advice in-person to ensure budding cyclists have the best products to suit their needs.

South Downs Bikes has been going for 16 years now, becoming a renowned bicycle retailer in the heart of the South Downs National Park in the south-east of England. It embodies the community spirit of cycling by going the extra mile for its customers and providing a wide range of products and services, said retail operations manager Aaron Creamer, from the ‘just getting going’ rider to the experienced downhill racer.

“We pride ourselves on customer service and all our enthusiastic staff undertake the highest levels of product training, ensuring you leave with a smile on your face, ready to ride your next bike,” said Creamer.

Covid impacts
“We have tried to operate at a relatively normal level during the pandemic. We did close one of our stores at the beginning to allow staff to be in one safe environment but still offered our collection and drop off service for the local community. While the pandemic has been difficult for many, the bike industry has continued to be buoyant. 

“We have seen unprecedented growth through both of our stores and have seen many new and returning customers invest in new bikes.”

South Downs Bikes, which has two stores in Storrington and Worthing, near Brighton, is in fact expanding with a third store in early 2022 in nearby Broadwater, explains Creamer. “We are aiming to open in February, but this could change due to issues out of our hands!

“We will be stocking around 80 bikes from brands like Specialized, Whyte, Trek and Brompton just to name a few and there will be options for all cycling disciplines from MTB to gravel, to road and commuter bikes.

“There will be a fully functioning workshop running seven days a week offering full-service options for the surrounding residents and passers-by.”

Happy customers
In terms of retail changes and trends, Creamer said the last few months “have certainly slowed down for us”. 

“However, despite this, we are seeing more people coming into the store for a solid reason and leaving as happy customers,” continued Creamer. “We have also seen our e-commerce platform really begin to gain some ground this year and leading up to the festive period, we saw some incredible growth.”

Post-Covid, Creamer believes the industry will take a few more months to stabilise, as shops compete to sell through some of the more oversubscribed stock. “Going into spring, I see the workshops being extremely busy but there could be some issues with components,” said Creamer.

“These issues withstanding, sustainable travel is such an important topic, we will see consistently busy shop floors across the country and I personally think the bike trade has never been in a better place.”

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