Recession: cycling industry and crime

Rising energy, rents, mortgages and food costs…It’s hard to escape the cost of living rises and the threat of a global recession on the horizon.

We explore what impact the current and future economic climate, into 2023, might have on crime and the cycling industry.

Recession and cycling industry

So the big question to start, will crime rise in a recession?

The logical expectation would be yes, as you would expect poverty and desperation to lead a new wave of people into a criminal life. Whilst there is a risk with certain younger age groups of society and certain types of crime, ‘overall’ the crime rate is not expected to rise based on statistics from previous recessions, including 2008/2009.

However, theft is one type of crime that can see a recession rise. In 2009, The Guardian reported that crime was down by 4% overall, but there was “an unexpected 25% surge in personal thefts and a 4% increase in burglaries.”

Regarding bicycle thefts specifically, in 2008 and 2009 there was a strong decline in reported police bicycle thefts within England and Wales, with 104K bikes stolen compared to 111K in 2007 and then back up to 110K in 2010.

Crime in a recession - 2008 - 2009

In 2022, without being in a recession yet, we are seeing a slow down in the number of ‘police reported’ bicycle thefts as Stolen Ride predicted in the summer of 2021, but cycling numbers have also fallen considerably with fewer people using bikes as a mode of transport.

The National Travel Survey published on the 31st August 2022 revealed that “compared to 2020, average cycling trips decreased by 27% in 2021 to 15 trips per person, a figure which is 7% lower than 2019.”

The demand for new bikes has fallen in 2022, with the CEO of Trek recently mentioning to Bounce Cycles that “we are seeing a significant decline in demand for bicycles.”

Cheap money for business has ended

In the last two boom years you will have read about large business investments and even larger acquisitions in the cycling industry. Whilst this will always happen in good times and bad when it comes to great business ideas and companies, start-up funding has become harder to capture. We could see in the coming months, into April next year, scale back across large swathes of cycling businesses with an acknowledgement that their incoming revenue is likely to suffer with people looking to save money. The only caveat to that is the hope that more people will take to bikes and ditch their petrol guzzling cars.

More generally in business, the impact of challenging conditions are already landing with some business owners left with no choice but to shut their doors. There was a “13-year high in the three months to the end of June” of business closures, across England and Wales, as reported by The Guardian.

However, if certain existing businesses are scaling back or closing, it might be a fantastic opportunity for brand new businesses to lay solid foundations without the same level of competition.

Cycle insurance decline?

We recently asked the Stolen Ride community on Instagram, ‘compared to a year ago, which of the following are you more likely to do?’

  1. Cancel your cycle insurance policy
  2. Shop around for cheaper cycle insurance
  3. Buy cycle insurance for the first time

Unsurprisingly, particularly among the Stolen Ride community, a large percentage (41%) are keen for peace of mind by taking out insurance.

But an even larger, 59%, are considering cancelling existing policies or shopping around for cheaper cycle insurance.

With insurance, it’s unfortunately common for people to cancel policies when there are recessions, as money-saving mode is activated. In 2009, for example, a significant number in the UK cancelled home insurance (as reported by LV and Sainsburys’ Bank at the time).

Conclusion

It’s clear that these are troubling times for all of us as we face an uncertain financial future. Whilst it’s positive news that bicycle thefts have fallen slightly this year, we would suggest thinking very carefully before cancelling any insurance policy as a means of cost saving.