LANSING, Mich. — One sector of the economy that skyrocketed as the pandemic hit.demand for bikes is nearing all-time highs and if you’re in the market for a new two-wheeler, Ash-Har Quraishi shows you how it may be months before you get one. Bicycles seem to be everywhere that is unless you’re trying to buy one.
Natat Edgebrook Cycle & Sport in Chicago bikes have become a hot commodity during the pandemic
Jim Kirsten is the owner, Edgebrook Cycle. “It has been off the charts. it's unprecedented.” So much so, that there’s a critical shortage. “We have about 10 percent of our usual inventory and our service work which you see kind of surrounding me here is about 300 percent where it normally is.”
In fact, bike racks at retail giants like Wal-Mart, Target and Dick’s are almost completely bare. Online vendors like Torrance from California based Sixthreezero say demand for their bikes has jumped 800%.
They’ve had to triple their staff to handle the increased interest. April sales for traditional bikes, indoor bikes, and other accessories grew by 75% compared to the same time last year and reached $1 billion dollars for the first time in a single month.
The N.P.D. group, industry experts, say commuters are abandoning public transportation and gym closures and boredom has created a perfect storm.
Today’s bike boom they say is one not seen since the oil crisis of the early 1970’s. Jay Townley of Human Powered Solutions says “mid to low price bicycles are just wiped out across the country.”
Jay Townley is with Human Powered Solutions and spent much of his 60-year career at Schwinn and as President of the giant bicycle company. “Along with new bike sales bicycle repair has skyrocketed. there is a lot of shops if you call around the shops in your area you'll find a lot of them are weeks out for repair.”
Townley says the U.S. bicycle market is import dependent – with more than 90 percent coming from China, punitive trade tariffs, supply chain disruptions and lackluster 2019 sales caught manufacturers off guard and forecasts didn’t predict the increased demand accelerated by the pandemic.
“Now we're in a phase where we're trying to get that pipeline to replenish those inventories and that's going to be extremely difficult as we go forward.” It could be late fall before supply catches up to demand. In the meantime buying may be the best way to pedal forward.
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