This year’s Local Bike Shop Day is taking place on 5th September – after being postponed from its original date back in May. BikeBiz catches up with the ACT to find how COVID-19 changed its plans and what we can expect moving forward
Many cycle retailers have experienced a boom in business recently, with a rise in bike sales and workshop demand witnessed across the country. And with more of the public engaged in cycling, IBDs have been on hand to help both new and existing cyclists find what they need using expert knowledge and experience.
Local Bike Shop Day was originally due to take place this year on 2nd May, but was one of many celebrations that was postponed. Instead, it is set to take place on 5th September – a date which was confirmed with a poll among participating retailers. But what can we expect from this year’s iteration? BikeBiz caught up with the ACT to find out why now is the time to educate this new cycling audience…
What can we expect from Local Bike Shop Day this year – what will be different now it’s taking place in September?
The new Local Bike Shop Day date falls at an ideal time to celebrate two key themes. Firstly, we will be focusing on targeting the number of kids that will be returning to schools; what better time than now to start encouraging the younger generation to start using an efficient, environmentally friendly and healthy mode of transport?
Local Bike Shop Day coincides perfectly with the Government’s recently launched Better Health campaign, whereby it is encouraging adults and children alike to choose a healthier and more sustainable method of transport through schemes such as the Fix Your Bike vouchers, as well as introducing bicycle prescriptions. With people being discouraged from using public transport at the moment, cycling will be a perfectly viable option for many parents to get both younger and older children to school safely.
Local Bike Shop Day may just be that extra bit of encouragement needed to make the decision to change from four wheels to two. Kids’ cycling is a sector which has been lost to the IBD for some time now, with parents generally choosing to turn to corporates to buy lower-quality, cheaper bicycles. Events such as Local Bike Shop Day highlight just how important it is to shop locally to buy good quality products that will benefit local economies. Through all IBDs uniting to promote Local Bike Shop Day in September, we can bring kids’ cycling back to the IBD.
The second theme for this year’s postponed date will be to keep the nation cycling through to autumn. So far, 2020 has seen the use of bicycles reach an all-time high, with data showing that cycling levels during lockdown rose by up to 300% on some days. It is now pivotal for the cycling industry to do what we can to show these new cyclists that cycling is more than a lockdown fad, and that there are endless reasons to continue cycling throughout autumn.
Schemes and events such as Local Bike Shop Day and BikeIsBest are now more important than ever in sustaining the influx in cycling across the UK. By working together, the cycling community can convince not only the public of the importance of cycling, but also ensure that the Government is continuing to adjust the UK’s infrastructure to accommodate the high numbers of cyclists into autumn.
How have preparations been affected by COVID?
The preparation for a UK-wide event such as Local Bike Shop Day takes a lot of time and effort for all who are taking part. In this case, this includes suppliers, media, the IBDs as well as ourselves, the ACT, as the event organisers. Resources that were created such as artwork, online assets, printed materials and event promotion in the lead up to the original date – 2nd May – had mostly become wasted efforts as the nation was thrown into uncertainty at the end of March. With the help of a participating retailer survey, we made the difficult decision to postpone the day for the safety of bike retailers and customers.
Before the lockdown was announced, we had been in contact with many bike shops about their plans for the day. While these plans may not be able to go ahead as they were initially intended, we really hope that these shops will now utilise the new date to help us celebrate bike shops across the nation.
Why is it important to support local bike shops at this time?
The last few months have heavily affected many of our local bike shops in both negative and positive ways that could never have been predicted. While safety is still a concern for some, many bike shops have found that business has been booming to the extent that they are unable to cater to the newfound high volumes of customers walking through the door. There has even reportedly been an increase in pop-up mobile mechanics in an attempt to match the greatly increased consumer demand.
It is now key that we educate this new cycling audience on the importance of good quality bicycles and why they should be supporting their local bike shops. Local Bike Shop Day gives IBDs, suppliers and customers the perfect reason to shout about the importance of bike shops and all the positive things that they do to help their communities and local economies.
Bike shops have been dealing with unprecedented difficulties this summer, which is why the ACT wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to promote the day to their communities. This year, we worked with Cyclescheme to give out free retailer packs including window stickers, posters and flyers to help IBDs promote the day to their customers. Next year, we plan on exploring new ways that we can support local bike shops and help them to maximise the day and benefit as much as possible.
How will this year’s date change impact plans for next year and beyond?
While September wasn’t the initial date planned to celebrate bike shops across the nation, the timing for this year’s Local Bike Shop Day and the key themes that we will be promoting for it have worked out very well. Many local bike shops have been really great at celebrating the day over the past couple of years, and we are excited to see how they will utilise resources and promotions to draw in old and new customers.
Encouraging kids to get cycling as they go back to school, as well as convincing the nation to continue cycling, are two important things for the cycling sector to contribute to. We expect this year’s date to be successful for all involved and would certainly consider continuing to celebrate Local Bike Shop Day in early September from hereon.
However, we always value retailer feedback and since this is a day for the trade, it is the trade that we will turn to when making the decision as to when to organise Local Bike Shop Day 2021.