Pandemic drives up sales of bikes, clearing out inventory at local stores

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The closure of sporting events, movie theaters and various other ways people stay busy has forced many outside.

For many people, that means on a bike, and one study shows sales of adult bikes went up by more than 121%, which is causing many stores in the Mid-South to see empty shelves.

It’s not just buying bikes. There’s been a boost in renting them, too, like from Explore Bike Share.

“Just kinda getting out of the house and relaxing for a little while,” biker Daniel Quinlan said.

Biking has become part of Zoe Valentino’s routine. 

“Like every single day, at least four miles,” she said.

Inside local shop Bikes Plus, it’s pedal to the metal, too. As repairs are made and pieces are unpacked, employees are feverishly working to keep up with demand.

“There was a good spike when the Greenline was built, but still not to this level to stay healthy but as a family too, that’s what we’re seeing,” Bikes Plus co-owner Chad Terry said. “When competitive sports stopped, that’s when families found they had time together to do things together.”

Co-owners Karen Malogorski and Terry are thankful business is booming.

They said in the last few months they’ve been able to hire five full-time employees to help out. 

“24 years, I think it’s the first time Chad and I can agree we’ve never seen anything like this,” Malogorski said.

Inside the specialty shop, there’s empty spots they’re working to restock. 

Big box retailers also saw the spike. WREG captured images of barren bike racks over the weekend inside several Walmarts and Academy Sports stores showing supply gutted.

Anton Mack, executive director with Explore Bike Share, said bike rentals are way up, too.

The company launched a “Lets Ride This Out” campaign, which offered a two-month promotion to get people safely active during the pandemic.

Over that time, the rate of new users was up more than 260%.

“Part of that is because of the pandemic, and people are at home, and they’re not commuting to work,” Mack said.

They find people want to do something active to escape the often stressful times they’re experiencing now.

“Especially on a beautiful day because the wind is in your hair, you’re getting sun,” Valentino said.

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