retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Think of this as the next shortage…

From the New York Times, a story about how "as the coronavirus pandemic shrinks life in major American cities - limiting pastimes and discouraging use of buses and subways - hundreds of thousands of Americans are flocking to one of the most basic forms of mobility: the bicycle.

"In March, nationwide sales of bicycles, equipment and repair services nearly doubled compared with the same period last year, according to the N.P.D. Group, a market research company. Sales of commuter and fitness bikes in the same month increased 66 percent, leisure bikes jumped 121 percent, children’s bikes went up 59 percent and electric bikes rose 85 percent.

"By the end of April, many stores and distributors had sold out of low-end consumer bikes. Now, the United States is facing a severe bicycle shortage as global supply chains, disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, scramble to meet the surge in demand.

The Times writes that "the spike in sales comes on the heels of stay-at-home orders that have temporarily curtailed daily life, but that may permanently transform the role of bicycles into something more essential, including a safer alternative to public transit as the nation slowly begins to reopen.

"Some American cities are already planning for a lasting shift after the pandemic - a significant departure in a society that has favored cars over bikes for decades, even as European cities embraced cycling as a transportation mode as integral as New York City’s subway."

It won't just be cities, of course … because, as noted in our earlier story, there seems to be a return to the suburbs taking place as people look for a different kind of shelter in this and future storms.  Which means, I think, that maybe we'll also see more bike paths being opened in the suburbs …. at least I hope so, because they are virtually none where I live.

As the Times writes, "since the pandemic upended daily life in the United States, cycling has taken on a crucial, sanity-saving role: bikes are a way to exercise while gyms stay closed and an inexpensive means of getting around cities where more than 90 percent of riders have abandoned public transportation.

"Going for a bike ride has replaced grabbing a drink on first dates and has been used to coax children outside while parents are on conference calls at home."

Amen.  And an Eye-Opener.