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As most cyclists will currently be aware, the past year has been troublesome when it comes to purchasing bicycles.
But why is there a bicycle shortage and how long can we expect it to continue?
Why Are All Bicycles Sold Out?
As COVID-19 spread globally, the United Kingdom saw its first national lockdown in April of 2020. With everyone’s spirits dampened and many of us being confined to our homes or fearing public transport, it makes sense that we saw a huge spike in cycling as a result of the pandemic.
As the virus continued to do its thing, up to 8.9 million people in the UK were cycling per week. This has since been coined the ‘bike boom’ and even though we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – in terms of COVID-19 – the effects of this are still impacting the bicycle market.
Ultimately, we ended up with an increased demand for bike components alongside a reduced supply; thus, bicycles were sold out and still continue to be hard to get a hold of.
Are Bikes Hard to Find Right Now?
The short answer is yes – bicycles are still hard to find right now. Especially in the category of bikes costing less than £1,000. While it was anticipated that there would be a growth in bicycle sales during 2021 regardless, the effects of the pandemic sent these estimates soaring.
These statistics do not just apply to the United Kingdom either. Across the globe, Matt Powell (senior industry advisor and vice president of the market research group, NPD) claimed that bicycle sales increased 55% between December 2020 and February 2021 – this is compared to the same period of time during 2019.
As of June 2021, major retailer Halfords continued to warn that the shortage of bikes is ongoing globally. Their profits tripled during the pandemic due to the increase in bicycle sales. More specifically, their pretax profits increased by 184 percent to £64.5 million.
How Long Will the Bicycle Shortage Last?
Even as we approach the end of the pandemic, bicycle sales are still expected to remain troublesome. With restrictions on foreign travel and struggles in terms of both manufacturing and shipping still ongoing, the bicycle shortage could continue into 2023.
While it may seem that things are returning back to normal, temporary closures of factories across Asia are still happening. If one factory closes its doors, there is a major shortfall in components and materials for the bikes that so many of us are demanding. As of writing, Malaysia continues to close factories. While Vietnam – another major source of bicycles – remains in lockdown.
Additionally, the shipping of components to Western countries remains an issue too. This is not solely down to travel restrictions, but a shortage in shipping containers globally also. Prior to COVID-19 ravaging the planet, shipping containers from the Far East were estimated to cost around $2000. However, they are now estimated at costing $18,0000 per container. Each container can ship 265 bikes, and for those bikes that are cheaper, this affects them disproportionately.
With all of this being said, industry figures claim that production has been booked and pre-sold far into the future. While we can hope that things will settle down later into 2022, there is also a chance we may not see a ‘normal’ bicycle market again until 2023.
What Should I Do if I Can’t Buy a Bike?
Firstly, be cautious of being scammed when it comes to trying to buy a bicycle. As with every new shortage, more and more scam websites will pop up to try and take advantage of this. Rather than take that risk, we recommend renting a bike instead.
If you find that you want to go cycling, but the bicycle you want is not available just yet, do not be disheartened. There are still plenty of bikes available online, just be sure to do your research, and be cautious if a price looks too good to be true. However, as our recommended alternate option, we have a handy guide here on how you can rent a bike too so you need not miss out.