Bicycle sales skyrocket as people look for alternative modes of exercise under lockdown

US government has declared that bicycles are an essential item and mode of travel, so many bike retailers keep the doors to their store open

                            Bicycle sales skyrocket as people look for alternative modes of exercise under lockdown
(Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic has just about turned everything upside down and it has caused major disruptions in people's lives. Many are scrambling to figure out a new routine under lockdown, trying to get back in the game as it was prior to the guidelines that were imposed by the authorities to contain the disease. More than anything, the new social-distancing, and six-feet-apart rule has become a bit of a challenge for those that enjoy being outdoors.

Since everyone is forced to stay indoors now, people have begun to fret over their routine exercises. With the lockdown in place, there are not many options for outdoor exercises, and following a yoga or pilates routine from YouTube doesn't hold a candle to the wind-in-my-hair, fresh air experience from a jog in the park. Although, some states have eased the restrictions enough for people to be out and about as long as they practice social-distancing, the concern for safety still persists.

So it shouldn't exactly come as a surprise that amid this hullabaloo, bicycles have suddenly become a popular exercising gear and a transportation mode in disguise. There have been several reports of a boom in bicycle sales in the past couple of weeks from not only across the country but the world over. 

A cyclist with a trailer for children passes a 'Beach Closed' sign on the boardwalk on March 22, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida. The city of Miami Beach has closed all parks and beaches due to COVID-19, however, the boardwalk is open for people to exercise (Getty Images)

According to Guardian, bicycle companies in Australia are struggling to cope with the sudden peak in sales. Grant Kaplan, the manager of Giant Sydney, a bike store in Sydney's central business district told Guardian Australia, "We’re the new toilet paper and everyone wants a piece. We can’t keep up with sales. Literally the phone is ringing nonstop."

At first, employees at companies like Giant Sydney were afraid that the pandemic lockdown could lead to unemployment, especially now that people were being asked to not leave their homes. However, within a week of the restrictions being imposed, Kaplan was handing them work schedules with extra shifts, saying they were suddenly "short-staffed given the upturn in bike sales."

They have been compelled to stop their bike-servicing facility (which is the major source of their revenue), and instead, mechanics who would usually fix bikes are now busy organizing the new purchases for customers.

Sean Marshall, one of the employees at Giant Sydney, told Guardian Australia that sales estimates on every Saturday have jumped to $40,000 from the usual $10,000. Nathan Ziino, the co-manager at bikeNoW, based in South Melbourne also that they sold approximately 45 bikes in the past weekend, many of which were entry-level models that retailed between $700 and $1,200.

Families have been investing in more bikes to stay active during the government-imposed lockdown, while many others have thought of this time as a good opportunity to take up a new hobby. 

In the UK, the BBC reported similar developments among bicycle companies for both exercise and safer mode of transport. Will Butler-Adams, chief executive of Brompton, a company that specializes in the production of folding bicycles said to BBC, "People are thinking, I want to have independence. I think sales in the UK across the industry are probably up around 15%."

An Indian man paddles his bicycle in front of a mural depicting the globe covered in a mask, as India remains under an unprecedented lockdown over the highly contagious coronavirus (Covid-19) on April 13, 2020 in New Delhi, India (Getty Images)

Various bicycle stores and companies across the US have reported that their bicycle sales have soared to a new high, as Fox News has reported an uptick in bicycle-riders in California, more than usual. The US government has declared that bicycles are an essential item and mode of travel, so many bike retailers keep the doors to their store open despite the nation-wide lockdown.

Matthew Blevins, owner of Huntsville, Alabama- based Blevins Cycle Company said to WHNT News 19  that business has been booming since the lockdown was imposed earlier last month. "We’ve never seen this kind of influx in service before", said Blevin. "We’ve never been this busy in nine years. We’re in triple digits on bikes waiting for service. We’re all working as fast as we can."

"I think everybody’s just getting their old bikes out, dusting them off, trying to find something to do besides being cooped up in the house," he added. He also mentioned that the business has gone through some changes to adhere to the social-distancing guidelines that have been imposed. "We’re doing curbside pickup and drop off for service, and scheduled appointments for bicycle sales, which is something we’ve never done before," he explained. 

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego-based bicycle business are also doing exceptionally well during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dan Zapkowski, owner of Pacific Beach Bikes to the Tribute that he has never sold more bikes in his life. He said that customers flocked to his store to make new purchases immediately after public recreational places shutdown with the lockdown orders. 

People ride their bikes along a bike path near the pier on March 21, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California (Getty Images)

“People just want to get outside and get exercise, and really the only options are to walk, run or ride a bicycle,” Zapkowski said to the Tribune. Bike shops in and around San Diego have reportedly been considered in the list of 'essential businesses.'

The major setback, however, is that with the overwhelming rise in demand, the businesses have fallen short on inventory. The lockdown has also made it extremely difficult to gather new shipments for yearning customers. "A lot of companies are selling out on bikes," Zapkowski told the Tribune. "I spent more than an hour last night researching new brands and companies we can introduce to our shop because the suppliers we’re used to are running out of bikes."

Los Angeles-based company Sixthreezero, which manufactures beach cruisers said that there has been an “extreme increase in demand” for its bikes, per the Tribune. The company reportedly put a freeze in its sales between April 17 and May 1, to catch up on pre-existing orders, before they can take on new ones. 

“We are doing our best to navigate this unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime event that has put unforeseen pressure on our systems,” the CEO of Sixthreezero, Dustin Gyger, said in a statement on its website. “We promise, every bike, every accessory, and every warrantied part will get shipped.” When trying to connect with them over a phone call, the Tribune said that a pre-recorded message alerts costumers that its warehouses are  “working under severe restrictions on manpower to maintain a safe and responsible work environment.” Thus, shipments are coming in slowly, delaying deliveries to customers. 

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