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

Bike gross sales surge, however Portland retailers 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 time when the enterprise has taken in over 30 bikes for restore in simply the primary 45 minutes after opening.

Different Portland bike retailers have reported related booms in enterprise because the begin of the coronavirus pandemic. However that elevated curiosity typically 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 laborious to come back by this summer time for Tonkin and bicycle store homeowners throughout the nation as producers have been unable to fulfill the rise in demand.

“We haven’t been capable of get the product that we would wish to be able to really capitalize on the curiosity degree,” Tonkin mentioned. “If we had even the common quantity of provide, we might be having our greatest 12 months. We’d be up 25 to 50%.”

Gross sales of bicycles, gear and restore companies 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 12 months, in line with the NPD Group, a market analysis firm.

Whereas NPD noticed unprecedented progress within the gross sales of family-friendly, grownup life-style and youngsters’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 possible 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 file 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 decide 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 below $1,000 have drawn probably 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 hold 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 elements have contributed to the dearth of provide.

Factories in China and Taiwan, the place nearly all of U.S. bike imports come from, shut down early this 12 months as a result of 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 the US have been down since 2018 as properly, when President Donald Trump applied new tariffs on items produced in China. In accordance to The New York Times, the variety of bicycles imported to the US dropped by 25% final 12 months and have been down by 30% within the first quarter of this 12 months in comparison with the identical interval in 2019.

On the identical time, curiosity in biking has exploded as individuals have began to search for new and safer leisure actions and safer options for commuting in the course of 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 vital ranges of stock via a lot of the pandemic.

His retailer, which makes a speciality of high-end bicycles, normally places in giant orders early within the 12 months. Cyclepath determined to go forward with these orders though they have been uncertain what would occur to bicycle retailers as soon as the pandemic hit. When the enterprise noticed an uptick in enterprise in March, it instantly began ordering as a lot stock as they might.

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

Larson mentioned his retailer has began to see extra delays not too long ago as they’ve tried to buy extra stock. Ontiveros, too, mentioned there’s a whole lot of uncertainty heading into the autumn as a result of lack of provide.

Nonetheless, Ontiveros is worked up about what the elevated curiosity over the past 5 months might imply for the biking business within the long-term.

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

He has additionally seen quite a few households coming to the shop over the past a number of months to purchase bikes for his or her kids. Ontiveros is hopeful that these children, 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 business 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 12 months resulting from a scarcity of stock, Tonkin mentioned that nearly half the purchasers he sees coming into the shop for repairs or to order bicycles have by no means been in earlier than.

“I feel our problem within the bike business is, How can we really seize this second?” Tonkin mentioned.

Jamie Goldberg | jgoldberg@oregonian.com | @jamiebgoldberg

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