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Bike sales surge, but Portland shops aren’t all benefiting

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Bike gross sales surge, however Portland outlets aren’t all benefiting

In his 30 years in Southeast Portland, Erik Tonkin can’t keep in mind one other time when his retailer, Sellwood Cycle Repair, has been this busy. There have been a number of instances this summer season when the enterprise has taken in over 30 bikes for restore in simply the primary 45 minutes after opening.

Different Portland bike outlets have reported comparable booms in enterprise because the begin of the coronavirus pandemic. However that elevated curiosity usually doesn’t translate to corresponding income will increase.

Tonkin mentioned his enterprise depends on bicycle gross sales, not repairs, for many of its income. And people gross sales have been onerous to come back by this summer season for Tonkin and bicycle store house owners throughout the nation as producers have been unable to satisfy the rise in demand.

“We haven’t been capable of get the product that we would wish with the intention to really capitalize on the curiosity stage,” Tonkin mentioned. “If we had even the typical quantity of provide, we might be having our greatest yr. We’d be up 25 to 50%.”

Gross sales of bicycles, gear and restore providers have exploded because the begin of the coronavirus pandemic in March. There have been 63% extra bike gross sales nationwide in June as in comparison with the identical time final yr, in keeping with the NPD Group, a market analysis firm.

Whereas NPD noticed unprecedented development within the gross sales of family-friendly, grownup life-style and kids’s bicycles within the first three months of the pandemic, the analysis firm reported that the continued uptick in June gross sales was pushed by curiosity in higher-end bikes.

The group mentioned {that a} lower in stock at retail shops probably contributed to fewer gross sales of lower-end bicycles.

Mark Ontiveros, co-owner of West End Bikes in downtown Portland, mentioned that his retailer loved report gross sales in July, however he misplaced potential gross sales this month as a result of it didn’t have sufficient bikes to promote.

Some clients who ordered bicycles will be capable to choose them up in September, however others should wait till January for particular bikes.

Ryan Barrett, the advertising supervisor at River City Bicycles in Southeast Portland, mentioned that bicycles beneath $1,000 have drawn essentially the most curiosity, however that the enterprise has been unable to maintain up with demand.

“Whereas the demand for bikes and for bike repairs has skyrocketed since March, provide has remained restricted and has not been capable of maintain tempo with demand, which has been difficult for each us and our clients,” Barrett mentioned. “If it weren’t for shortages, we’re positive gross sales could be record-setting.”

A number of components have contributed to the dearth of provide.

Factories in China and Taiwan, the place the vast majority of U.S. bike imports come from, shut down early this yr because of the coronavirus pandemic. It has taken time for these factories to return to their pre-pandemic manufacturing ranges. Producers additionally merely weren’t ready for a sudden surge in demand and hadn’t positioned orders for the quantity of provides they would wish.

Bicycle imports to america have been down since 2018 as effectively, when President Donald Trump carried out new tariffs on items produced in China. In accordance to The New York Times, the variety of bicycles imported to america dropped by 25% final yr and have been down by 30% within the first quarter of this yr in comparison with the identical interval in 2019.

On the similar time, curiosity in biking has exploded as folks have began to search for new and safer leisure actions and safer options for commuting throughout the pandemic.

Invoice Larson, proprietor of Cyclepath PDX in Northeast Portland, mentioned that he has been fortunate that his retailer has been capable of keep important ranges of stock by many of the pandemic.

His retailer, which makes a speciality of high-end bicycles, normally places in giant orders early within the yr. Cyclepath determined to go forward with these orders regardless that they have been not sure what would occur to bicycle outlets as soon as the pandemic hit. Once they noticed an uptick in enterprise in March, they instantly began ordering as a lot stock as they may.

“We have been making ready for it to be a troublesome gross sales interval for the summer season,” Larson mentioned. “We nonetheless went forward with our pre-orders, however have been able to pivot on a dime. The entire trade felt the identical approach. Lots of producers scaled again on their pre-orders and so, that’s why plenty of bike manufacturers have been caught with no stock very early on.”

Larson mentioned his retailer has began to see extra delays just lately as they’ve tried to buy extra stock. Ontiveros, too, mentioned there’s plenty of uncertainty heading into the autumn because of the lack of provide.

Nonetheless, Ontiveros is worked up about what the elevated curiosity during the last 5 months might imply for the biking trade within the long-term.

Earlier than the pandemic, 6.3% of Portlanders commuted by bike, the best proportion of motorbike commuters for a big American metropolis, in keeping with the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Ontiveros, whose store sells to plenty of bike commuters, mentioned he wouldn’t be shocked to see that quantity attain 10% as folks proceed to social distance and search for commuting options to public transit.

He has additionally seen quite a few households coming to the shop during the last a number of months to purchase bikes for his or her kids. Ontiveros is hopeful that these youngsters, who may not have taken to biking if it weren’t for the pandemic, will proceed with the game lengthy after it ends.

Tonkin, too, hopes that the trade is capturing new clients that may return for years to come back. Although he estimates his gross sales are solely up by lower than 2% this yr on account of an absence of stock, Tonkin mentioned that just about half the shoppers he sees coming into the shop for repairs or to order bicycles have by no means been in earlier than.

“I believe our problem within the bike trade is, How can we truly seize this second?” Tonkin mentioned.

Jamie Goldberg | jgoldberg@oregonian.com | @jamiebgoldberg

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