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'Better than the Christmas period': Bike sales are booming amid the coronavirus pandemic

·4-min read
  • Australians having been rushing to buy bikes during the coronavirus pandemic, which has pushed sales up among retailers.

  • Bicycle Centre Mitcham in South Australia said it has recently experienced sales "better than the Christmas period."

  • Bike Exchange, an online marketplace for bikes and accessories, saw an 86% surge in sales in March.

  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

There has been a jump in Australians getting bicycles and related equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nathan Morris, Business Owner at Bicycle Centre Mitcham in South Australia, told Business Insider Australia via Facebook that sales of family, kids and even electric bikes are up. He added that servicing is "huge", with the business booked out for three weeks compared to an average of three to four days during this time of year.

"It has definitely been a crazy time and something I’d have never predicted 6 weeks ago," Morris said. "We were anticipating a shutdown, so we began to run stock down. As it turns out we’ve stayed open and are experiencing sales better than the Christmas period."

And bike equipment has also been flying off the shelves. "We are selling a months worth of tyres and tubes every week," he said. The store is even selling out of trainers, equipment which lets you ride a bike while it is in a stationary position.

"We sold out of smart trainers and standard trainers in a day, which is crazy too as we hadn’t sold one for 6 months!" Morris said.

However, he noted that high-end sales – those above $7,000 – have been down, which he attributes to customers not wanting to spend a lot of money in their mission to get outdoors.

Bike Exchange has also seen a rise in sales

Australian-based online marketplace Bike Exchange has also seen a boom in bicycle sales. The business, which offers bikes, accessories, clothing and servicing has more than 500,000 products from more than 400 retailers on its website. It's also available in eight countries including Germany, USA, Canada and New Zealand.

The company had an 86% rise in sales in March.

Global CEO Mark Watkin told Business Insider Australia the business has experienced an "unbelievable uplift" in sales, particularly through April, with a 300% increase in sales year-on-year in Australia. The website has also seen traffic double without any paid marketing.

He explained that Bike Exchange doesn't actually hold any stock itself, with the inventory owned by the retailers and the brands. Retailers pay a subscription fee to be on Bike Exchange, which integrates with their point-of-sale systems.

"It's a live integration which then effectively allows their product inventory to be available on the site," he said. "So it goes into our database and they have access to our site. They have an admin site for their own account and they can choose to publish whatever they want as their inventory."

Customers are reaching for bike trainers

Watkin said a number of new customers are either buying or upgrading their first bike. And while there have been full bike purchases, sales of parts and accessories are higher because customers want to make sure they have the right-sized bike before they buy it.

"A bike is a technical purchase to many people, and they do like to touch and feel it in store," Watkin said. "So we've seen a lot more uplift in click and collect."

There has also been an uptick in sales of ebikes and indoor trainers as well. Watkin said indoor trainers increased in popularity, particularly toward the end of March, with users able to hook them up to a computer and access various training apps.

Watkin believes the longer-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be interesting to see, with cycling having a big part to play as social distancing is imposed on public transport and gyms remain closed.

"We've certainly encouraged people to ride as long as it's within the legislation and the restrictions," he said. "I always say that cycling is a sport and it's a recreation, but it's also a mode of transport which is a really important thing."

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