Britain's motorists are cutting back on mileage and car parts, says Halfords boss. His company's cycle sales take up the slack.
"When you are seeing the scale of fuel price increases, it is inevitable that customers will look for ways to save money," said Halfords chief executive David Wild, claiming that motorists' average mileage was decreasing as the fuel price rises continue to bite.
He also said motorists weren't devoting as much cash to keeping their cars on the road:
"Customers are pushing back spend on car servicing. If they do not defer a service then they will go for an interim service rather than a full service. They wait until the light comes on before they check their oil."
The Halfords CEO claimed instances of tyre baldness were up 11 percent on the same period last year.
However, there has been strong demand for bicycles, especially in the last quarter. Halfords said cycle sales increased by 11.5 percent in the 13 weeks to 1st July. The store's car enhancement category dipped by 10.6 percent in the same period.
Because of bikes - and a great deal of TV advertising - Halfords' total sales by rose by 0.3 percent in the last quarter.
Sales of Boardman bikes - heavily advertised on the ITV4 coverage of the Tour de France - have "grown strongly", which Wild said was “particularly pleasing.”
But discounting has knocked Halfords' gross margin down from 53 percent to 52 percent: the company is currently promoting a "40 percent off" sale on TV adverts.
"Product promotional activity has proved popular and supported the delivery of gross profit," said Wild.