Cycle shop owners hope for boom

INDEPENDENT cycle shop owners in Suffolk say business has shifted up a gear as people start thinking about turning to bikes in a bid to wade off the effects of the credit crunch.

INDEPENDENT cycle shop owners in Suffolk say business has shifted up a gear as people start thinking about turning to bikes in a bid to wade off the effects of the credit crunch.

They believe an increase in customers coming through their doors this month could soon spiral as people seek out cheaper ways to get to work.

A rise in people coming in to repair their old bikes has also been attributed to people ditching expensive gym memberships in favour of exercising on two wheels.

While car sales are plummeting, trade in the bike market continues to turn as the economic downturn bites on disposable income.

Steve Grimwood, the owner of Elmy Cycles in Ipswich, said they had seen a wave of new customers coming into the store to purchase bikes amid the testing financial conditions.

Trade in January at the St Helens Street shop is currently performing 40% higher than December and up around 10% on this time last year.

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“We have noticed a lot of people getting rid of the second car or looking at how they are going to work,” he said. “They are looking at how much they are spending on petrol, the bus and car parking and realising for the price of a years car parking they can buy themselves a decent bike.”

He added: “People are looking at gym membership and thinking 'this is expensive and not necessary, I can buy a bike and cycle to work and get fit at the same time.'

“The real boom for us is cycling to work - that is where the extra business is coming because people are using bikes for transport again which is great.”

A government Cycle to Work initiative, where employers sign up with bike shops to allow staff to purchase a tax free bicycle direct from their wages for the commute in has also helped record a rise in business. Details can be provided from independent cycle shops, or by visiting www.cyclescheme.co.uk.

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