What impact has COVID-19 had on the retail sale of bikes in North America and beyond? – Part 2

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Over the past few months, we have received numerous emails and a press release advising us of the impact COVID-19 has had on the bicycle industry in various respects. Races have been canceled or postponed, trade shows have been postponed, canceled or held online, and the Olympics are now scheduled for next year. Brands have laid off employees, implemented new policies and programs to put products in the hands of consumers, and changed production to make PPE for healthcare workers, to name a few some. We have a full schedule here and follow the good news from the industry here. Bike shops are, in many ways, the heart and soul of cycling. Many cyclists have bought their first bike from one, make friends there, go for advice, meet up at home for group rides and stop just to talk about bikes or have a beer. Much has changed recently, forcing retailers to react quickly and develop new strategies for doing business. We spoke with several of them and asked a few questions to see what they have done, how the pandemic has impacted their business and their thoughts for the future.

This is the second part of a two-part series. Since the publication of the first part, many places have gradually started to reopen, in the midst of various government directives and reaching out to the various stores, several things are very obvious. Many see an unprecedented volume of business … to the point where we can’t even contact them. We have heard of several months of delays for repairs and backlogs of bikes by the thousands. Suppliers are seeing all-time high sales rates for many products and bikes are becoming a commodity in many places. While it appears that many stores are doing well, others – especially in places dependent on tourism or facing operating restrictions – have suffered heavy losses.

You can consult the first part here.


Full Circle Cycle – Orlando, Florida
Full Circle Cycle has been doing business in the Orlando, Florida area since the 1990s and has always been recognized by the NBDA as one of the “best bike stores in America”. While many people think of Disney and Daytona Beach when Florida is mentioned, the state also offers a good deal of mountain biking with the Alafia and Santos trails a short drive from Orlando in central State. Florida also provides a refuge for riders during the cold winter months with much more temperate temperatures than further north. fullcirclecycleorlando.com

Have you laid off staff?

Fred Hewitt, owner: No, only one part-time employee took time off. We have slowly brought the staff back to the store itself now that we are working more from the store.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

F H: For April, we increased sales by 40% compared to April 2019 (last year was however very weak). We are on par with our 5-year average. We make 8% less volume overall because we sell a lot of bikes. Service is up 33% with a 13% increase in the volume of repairs.

Do you order online, collect at the curb or in stores?

F H: Fortunately, we already had a robust e-commerce platform, which helped drive sales of bikes and equipment. We do a curbside pickup for online orders and delivery of repairs and no store activity at this time. We closed our doors to the public on March 18 and we operated from tents installed in our back parking lot.

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

F H: No one except the authorized employees is in the physical store. Masks and gloves are required for personnel. We only carry out external transactions with contactless payments and without tests. We also have fewer hours open to relieve employees and stagger schedules, and we make service appointments. We spray all incoming service bikes with disinfectant, wash them with soapy water, let them sit in the Florida sun, and then take them to the store. The contact points (handles, seat, etc.) on new and repair bikes are sprayed with alcohol before the customer receives them.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

F H: Certainly a lot of new cyclists or people who rode at the same time but then put their bike away. It seems that now they are taking them out of the garages and we are bringing them up again.

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

F H: There are a range of possibilities. In the past eight weeks or so, we have had to rotate our business model several times. Two months ago, most cyclists did not expect the overwhelming demand for cycling to come. We knew we were going to run out of bikes in July, but no one planned to have this item moved until May 1. Right now, that makes us a service-only business. I hope this mini cycling boom will turn into a longer term trend as people discover the benefits of cycling.


Eddy’s Bike Shop – Stow, Ohio
Eddy’s Bike Shop is actually four stores in the Cleveland, Ohio area. These four stores are among the largest and most important bicycle retailers in the country and offer both Specialized and Trek, among other brands. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of change for their business in the way they operate and to whom they sell the most bikes. In their 80th year in business, owner Jimmy Ruggles Jr. says he has never seen anything like it with customers who drive just hours to buy an entry-level mountain bike. eddys.com

Have you laid off staff?

Jimmy Ruggles Jr, owner: We didn’t fire anyone, but it was interesting. Although we retained most of our guys, we did have some benefits when they were able to recover from unemployment, but we retained our core staff. I matched the base salary of the remaining staff with what the government was able to give, so these guys received their base salary with a bonus of $ 600 / week that I gave them – kind of like a risk premium.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

JR: We sell bikes and parts like we would in July. Fortunately, we had the inventory to manage it and that is what kept us afloat. Normally our warehouse holds 4,000 bikes at this time of year, but now we don’t even turn on the lights because it’s empty. Our service guys are extremely busy now. At the height of things, we carried out more than 60 repairs per day. Everyone was working overtime. We have to push to stay within a week. It is currently between 7 and 10 days. Under normal conditions, this is a 24 hour delay. Our guys arrive at 6 am and work until 10 pm to do the repairs.

Do you order online, collect at the curb or in stores?

JR: We carry out curbside pickups and online orders. Our showroom in two stores closed for a while, but in two others we were unable to pick up at the curb. The number of web orders we placed in a month was higher than the whole of last year combined.

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

JR: Employees must wear masks and gloves in accordance with Ohio state regulations. We wipe each test with each new bike. Around the store we have large quantities of hand sanitizer and we offer customers gloves. People who test the bike have to bring their own helmets or buy one – we don’t allow them to use our test helmets now.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

JR: That’s a lot of new customers, 90% new volumes for us. As it stands, we have over 3,000 out of stock bikes between Trek and Specialized. The activity was a good mix between entry-level and high-end bikes. I think most of it is made up of people who want to spend between $ 500 and $ 600 on a new bike, but they are exhausted, so they spend between $ 800 and $ 1,200. When the neighboring states were closed, we had people driving more than four hours to buy an entry-level bike.

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

JR: I think in the short term, I hope our regular traffic in the middle of summer always arrives and it is more than this wave. In the long run, I think next year, service departments, in general, are going to be inundated with new bikes that have been sold, plus the normal workload they get. On the retail side, it will depend on the availability of products. If there is no product available for sale at a reasonable price, it will push people to other outlets, be it motorsport or other forms of recreation.


River City Bikes – Portland, Oregon
River City Bicycles has been a mainstay of the Portland, Oregon cycling community for 25 years. With two locations and an online store, the company has positioned itself as one of the leading stores for everything from mountain bikes to road bikes and electric bikes. River City employs a large staff and has adapted during COVID-19 to continue serving its customers. rivercitybicycles.com

Have you laid off staff?

We have maintained our workforce and added several employees since the start of the pandemic.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

For a number of factors, we have seen an increase. Portland Spring has been wonderful, the gyms are closed, the kids are out of school, less traffic on the roads – and let’s not forget that BICYCLES ARE AWESOME, so naturally people are looking for them for fun and fitness.

Do you order online, collect at the curb or in stores?

Online orders and curbside pickup are the way we work. Our showrooms have been closed to customers since the start of distance orders.

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

The changes we made, such as closing the showroom, washing / disinfecting bikes before service, masks, alcohol and hand sanitizers, have all been implemented to guarantee the safety of staff and customers. These extra layers were very important for staff and customers. Fortunately, everyone is doing what they can to help and drove with it.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

This is an increase from both. We have had the pleasure of serving riders in Portland for 25 years, and are very pleased to help the new masked faces we are seeing, as well as online sales.

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

First, I would be remiss if I did not call and thank the hard work and extra effort that all of our staff had put into keeping our customers and the community going. Regarding the future impact, we hope that people looking for the handlebars right now remember how good life on a bike can be. When people discover how fun, healthy and breathtaking biking is, it’s a victory for all of us.


Meseroll – New York City, New York
Meseroll is a store located in the East Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York – in the midst of one of the highest COVID-19 epidemics in the world. In business for four years now, the store mainly focuses on BMX bikes, although they also see some other activities. (The store still carries Brooklyn Machine Works bikes… if you’re looking for one.) Although the media has described NYC as an apocalyptic nightmare, according to owner Andrew York, it’s certainly very strange but slightly less crazy (in the together) on the ground that people elsewhere cannot believe, at least from what he saw. He said that during the first weeks of the epidemic, everyone was really scared and he had never seen the city so calm with far fewer people. It was unclear whether bicycle shops were considered an essential business at first, but at that time things were dead. In a city of 8 million people, it is impossible to distance yourself, even with the greatest of care, and people hope to return to normal life sooner rather than later. meserollshop.com

Have you laid off staff?

Andrew York, owner: No, it’s just me and another guy. I get a lot of support from the guys on the team and one other guy. I helped him at home. We optimized our website and appealed to things.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

AY: For the first two weeks, it was really dead. Since then, it’s been pretty busy. It appears that some of the other stores are also very busy. As we only do BMX, it’s a bit limiting but we are always very busy. I don’t think we are as far as we normally would be, but we are definitely busy and people want to cycle. All suppliers are running out of bikes, parts, etc. I hope the best is yet to come, but that’s as much as I can handle being one.

Do you order online, collect at the curb or in stores?

AY: We place orders online with curbside pickup.

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

AY: I wear a mask and everyone who enters the store must also wear a mask.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

AY: I think it’s pretty standard for us. We get a lot of questions and people call / show up looking for different bikes that we don’t carry. For our customers (BMX), it’s the same. I see a handful of guys fixing things up so that the bikes ride well because they have more free time.

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

AY: First, I hope it gets even busier once people get back to work and think about how to get there. It’s easy to ride anywhere here and most people can drive very easily to work. I am wary of what will happen along the way and how it will affect supply. How there can be more competition with stores if bikes are popular. Used bikes and used bike sales could be a variable – How are people buying new bikes now going to have an impact on used bikes next year? I’m going to explore ways to reuse and refurbish parts, but it’s difficult in New York because you must have a pawnbroker’s license to resell used parts, even in a bike shop.


The Factory Bike Shop – Friborg, Switzerland
The Factory Bike Shop is an Enduro / DH store which was launched in 2016 by Bastien Ranger, a mountain biking enthusiast. Starting as an online store, it quickly expanded to establish a storefront the following year. Like the rest of the world, Switzerland has experienced many quarantines and social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus. Now, in their second phase of reopening, the restrictions are eased but telework and social distancing are still encouraged and there is still a long way to go before things get back to normal. thefactorybikeshop.com

Have you laid off staff?

Thibaut Ranger: No, we have not had to lay off any staff, in fact we are currently hiring four people for our new store.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

TR: We have seen an increase in bike sales and are selling more bikes.

Do you order online, collect at the curb or in stores?

TR: We placed orders online / by phone, with free home delivery to the customer. For new bikes, we prepare them in the workshop and send them for free.

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

TR: For repairs and services, we have designated an entry area for pickup and return. No contact, payment by card on the phone and disinfection of the handles.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

TR: Our customers haven’t really changed. However, I think there are a lot of people who got bored and wanted to get on a bike, so maybe an overall increase in customers in the market.

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

TR: I think this virus will have no negative impact and that we will continue to grow as expected, before the virus.


Biker Store – Cali, Colombia
Colombia is an incredible place for cycling. Huge mountains and a strong driving scene have multiplied the driving possibilities of the South American country in recent years. Like many countries in the world are Colombia has faced the Covid-19 situation with compulsory detention imposed by the government. After about six weeks of quarantine, certain economic sectors were authorized to reopen their doors to customers by following very strict security protocols. One of these companies is bicycle shops because public transport can increase the risk of contagion, bikes are one of the safest and safest means of getting around. Biker Store is located in Cali, Colombia and has taken full advantage of the situation. A big thank you to our friend Felipe Martinez for helping us reach the Colombian stores.

Have you laid off staff?

We closed the business for a month and a half in response to preventive quarantine. During the process, the CM was the only one to lose his job.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

Our sales are currently at 50% of normal.

Do you order online, collect at the curb or in stores?

Initially, we sold at home during the quarantine. Now that we are guaranteed to work, we continue to make online sales, home and floor deliveries.

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

Our security protocol consists in carrying out a complete disinfection of the common areas every three hours, a disinfection of customers at the entrance of the store (shoe soles and hands), these customers must have biosecurity elements (gloves, masks) and there can be no more than four clients at a time. Store doors are closed to control entry and all store employees are required to take their temperature daily, use biosecurity items and change their clothes upon arrival at the store.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

The customers are both, some looking for bikes to carry or ride, as biking is one of the safest practices of the moment. On the other hand, we have accomplished cyclists looking for coaches, simulators and items to continue their training. In proportion, there have been more!

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

I think this year our strategy will change and start to focus a lot more on mobility, strengthening online sales and technical service. However, sales volume will be affected, given the uncertainty and the loss of jobs. In general, people don’t feel like they are spending a lot of money and if that doesn’t change, I think staff may need to be cut to keep costs low and the business profitable.


Focus Bikes – Bogotá, Colombia
Focus is a relatively new bike shop in the north of Bogotá, focusing on high end bikes, they started working to build a bike community, through rides and events guided by their ambassadors, such as Santiago Botero (former Tour the France Polka Dot Jersey). world champion and ITT world champion). Since the community is an important way to grow the business, quarantine has changed the way they work. focusbikes.com.co

Have you laid off staff?

No, since it’s a small team, no one has lost their job.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

We are still selling but sales have dropped by 70%.

Do you order online, collect at the curb or in stores?

We carry out online orders, curbside pickup and store sales with restrictions. Sales are mainly made through electronic commerce.

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

It has completely changed. People can enter the store, but only two people at a time. They cannot try on clothes or accessories.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

We see current cyclists looking for inexpensive bikes to use with trainers, as well as new cyclists looking to change the activities they used to do. Gyms and places where many indoor cycling gatherings are closed.

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

Although the impact is now very strong economically, we see a great opportunity in the bicycle segment. We believe this will bring new cyclists and that we will all be more aware of the need to practice safety protocols in sports such as cycling.


Quality Bike Products – Bloomington, Minnesota
Quality Bicycle Products, or QBP, is the world’s largest distributor of bicycle products and accessories. QBP stocks and ships parts and supplies to more than 5,000 bicycle stores across America. In addition, QBP has its own brands of parts, accessories and even “in-house” bikes. Some of these brands include Salsa, Surly, All-City, 45North, Teravail, Foundry, Whiskey, Problem Solvers and Dimension, to name a few. The distributor has warehouses located in the United States to quickly serve retailers, allowing them to ship parts to most regions within a short period of time. Having such a large network, QBP has a strong impetus on the industry and what sells and does not sell. qbp.com

Have you laid off staff?

On April 2, we laid off about 12% of our workforce in response to a dramatic drop in sales following the pandemic. The layoffs affected all departments of the organization. It was a terribly painful decision for everyone involved.

Do you sell more, less or the same thing?

Our activity has rebounded considerably since the start of the pandemic (as well as since the layoffs). The bicycle industry has been booming in the United States since the start of the first two weeks of April.

Has the way you process and execute orders changed?

We haven’t changed any of our processes, but we’ve made several changes to help retailers, such as more flexible payment terms; relax the qualifications required to take advantage of our retail distribution services (click and collect); allow retailers to ship complete bikes to consumers; and more

What is your security protocol? How has it changed?

We now require that everyone inside our distribution centers wear a mask. All office workers now work from home. We clean and disinfect our facilities daily. We do not allow visitors to our facilities.

How have customers changed? Do you notice more basic cyclists or new cyclists?

We sell products to retailers. Based on what has been selling for 6 weeks, it is clear that there is a new focus on value-oriented products and retail services. People dust the bikes in their garage and bring them to the shops for service. People also buy BMX bikes, as well as bikes that sell for around $ 1,000 or less.

What is your prediction of long-term results? How do you think it will affect you over the next year?

I wish we had a crystal ball. Cycling for the first time can be a transformative experience for so many people. I think each of us remembers the first time we cycled, as well as those first experiences of adventure, thrills and exploration. These experiences are deeply powerful and moving. We believe that the industry has the potential to retain many of the new cyclists who have entered the sport since the start of the pandemic due to the strength of their experience. I believe and hope this is the long term result.


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