Halfords’ retail like-for-like sales plunged by 6.6% over its Christmas trading period as bike sales plummeted and full-year profits will be at the low end of expectations

Total retail sales were down 6.3% over the 13 weeks to December 31 when cycle sales dropped by 16%. The retailer put that decline down to fewer children’s cycles bought as presents and a slowdown of premium bike sales because of a “temporary” slow-down in sales related to the Cycle-to-Work scheme.

Total group sales increased 3.5% as a result of the car parts and bike retailer’s acquisition of the Autocentre business in February last year, where like-for-likes were up 1.6%.

Halfords chief executive David Wild said: “The cycle market was weaker this quarter. Looking forward, we are confident that the fundamentals of the bike market remain sound.

“The wider economic outlook is clearly challenging for consumers but Halfords is a strong brand with a leading customer offer. We continue to focus on opportunities in the UK and Ireland that will deliver long term, sustainable growth”.