Local shop owners say they are seeing a run on bicycles thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
With both limited public transportation and social activity, people have gravitated towards cycling as a way to get outside. As a result, local bike stores have seen a massive rise in sales.
“Our service area is seeing an unprecedented level of demand,” said Tim Fricker, the owner of [email protected] in Vienna. But for residents seeking a quick tuneup before hitting the road, they may have to wait a little longer with Fricker reporting a turnaround time of about seven weeks.
“The longest turnaround time I can recall in the past is a few times where we hit three weeks,” he added. “There has been nothing like this.”
[email protected] sells “conventional bicycles” in addition to specialty bikes such as recumbent bikes and trikes, folding bikes, adaptive bikes, electric bikes and trikes. While they haven’t sold out on conventional bikes, Fricker predicts that most other shops and distributors have.
Bikenetic in Falls Church, for example, is anticipating first-time and impulse-buyers to flock to the store. Inventory for entry-level riders has yet to be replenished, though.
“All of the companies we deal with have also run out of bikes and are waiting for purchase orders to fill back in from Asia,” said Jan Feuchtner, the owner of Bikenetic.
The store is also experiencing a delayed turnaround. Feuchtner reported also being seven weeks out on repairs with about 300 bikes in the queue, which is double the number of bikes they usually have backlogged.
To adapt to the demand, [email protected] created heavier structure and discipline to better manage workflow. Fricker said they eliminated “while you wait” services with the exception of mid-ride issues such as a flat tire.
Additionally, they tweaked certain services due to the coronavirus pandemic. No customers are permitted in the store at any time, walk-in test rides are not allowed and payment is handled over the phone.
Fricker anticipates that typical bike stores will see a steep drop in sales once the pandemic begins to die down since the market will be “saturated.” Because of the specialty of his own store, however, he thinks [email protected] won’t be impacted as much and will have more returning customers.
Of the people who started biking because of the pandemic, some will likely continue riding when things return to normal, keeping business afloat.
“I just don’t know what percentage will continue versus those who lose interest once the world gets back to something more normal. Time will tell.”