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Bike Shops without Bikes … Really?

November 18, 2020

Whoever heard of a bike shop without bikes? Well, if you’ve been looking to purchase a bike in 2020, chances are you’ve witnessed the bike shortage at your local bike shop or even larger retailers. Guess what … your search is likely going to continue to be an adventure even into next year and possibly 2022. So what’s up?

The last major bike frenzy happened in the 1970s owing to the first major environmentalist movement. In this case, the pandemic has played a major role. But the seeds for the bike shortage were planted even before COVID struck.

A Decline in Bike Imports Got the Bike Shortage Rolling

China has dominated the U.S. bike market for a very long time. It produced around 95 percent of the bikes sold here in 2018. The country also provides 60 percent of bike components. Tariffs imposed on China created a significant drop off of imports in 2019, the worst year in four decades for bicycle imports.

Road bikes, for example, cost 25% more to import thanks to the tariff. Couple that with the pandemic that caused production to stop and you have the makings of a bike shortage. China, along with manufacturers from other countries, had to shut down plants as a result of COVID.

To give you a clear picture of the problem, in August there were 82,000 bikes available versus nearly 600,000 last year. That amounts to an 86% inventory drop.

Demand at Bike Shops Has Never Been Higher

But even as the pandemic impacted production, it created another issue … a demand for bikes. In April, cycling sales through all retail channels jumped 75% to roughly $1 billion. According to the NPD Group, sales for April typically range from $550 to $575 million. Between April and July, bike sales were 81% higher than in 2019.

Sales increased across every category:

Even bike gear saw major increases with bicycle helmet sales jumping 49%, bike baskets 85%, and water bottle cages 60%. Indoor cycling products also increased … stationary bike sales grew 270% in April.

Components like bike chains were even hard to get owing to material shortages and shipping issues.

Bikes Become Mainstream

Thanks to the pandemic, cycling has become a mainstream activity for getting people outdoors and away from confinement. With gyms closed and many remaining that way, it provides a great way for people to get in a workout.

Especially during the initial breakout, public transportation came to a screeching halt. Even though it has rebounded,  cycling presents a low-cost way to get from point A to point B. Many larger cities have even elected to close off roads to give cyclists convenient, safe routes for travel.

And let’s not forget parents. Sending the kids outside to ride their bikes gave them some much-needed respite. Plus, bike riding is genuinely fun.

Hit Up a Local Bike Shop Near You

With winter approaching and fewer people considering riding their bikes, especially in northern areas, there’s a hope that production can catch up by next spring and at least reduce the bike shortage.

Meanwhile, if you’re still hoping to land a bike, talk to someone at your local bike shop. If a customer backs out of a purchase, someone drops off a used bike, or the shop stumbles onto some inventory, you could be the first to know.

You can also look into private sales. Used bikes can be a great way to get into the cycling game for less. Bikes will basically last forever with good care. And you can always dress them up with new bike tires or other parts. A bike repair shop will be happy to help you get your bike in working order.

Our local bike shop is in Mt. Kisco with convenient access from major routes. We can help you with everything from bikes and bike gear to bike fittings and repair. Stop by or give us a call.