It’s fair to say that none of us saw this one coming, and for many businesses, it’s been the most challenging of times. However, the bicycle industry has fared better than most. Ray Howard from Howards Cycles shares his thoughts on how it’s been for his bike shop looking back over the last year
One of the most positive things is just how supportive our community has been, both in terms of respecting the COVID safe practices that we have all come to see as normal, plus the sense of responsibility for keeping business local.
Back in February 2020, we had plans of using the usual quiet month for sprucing up the shop, so when the first lockdown was announced I wasn’t overly concerned. Mid shop fit, things started to get busy, really busy.
The phone started to ring, the emails started rolling in, customers waiting at the door, this is when it occurred to me that we were in for an extraordinary year.
We, like most, have had to change the way we work, not only trying to keep staff and customers safe, but working around stock shortages and the challenges of Brexit plus adapting to any potential future growth.
To put things into context though, we’ve got no old stock, we haven’t needed to discount anything, our order book is healthy, Christmas sales were strong and we’ve been able to grow our small team plus we’re open longer hours, so it’s all good.
Hopefully, the industry will see this as an opportunity to get rid of the nonsensical model year format which normally sees just a colour change to existing models resulting in retailers heavily discounting stock in the middle of summer, creating a continuous recurring sequence.
In this year like no other, it’s been refreshing to see just how small businesses have managed to compete and thrive even against the big online stores. Let’s hope this upward trend in cycling continues.
Howards Cycles is based in Wymondham, Norfolk. Find out more at https://www.howardscycles.co.uk/.