Bike sales soar during pandemic despite supply problems

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) With gyms closed and sports canceled for the time being, people are looking for ways to exercise, while doing it safely. Our Elissa Borden shows you how people are using biking to keep themselves moving during the pandemic.

If you couldn't tell by the packed Burlington Bikeway, biking is a popular choice for exercise, and transportation.

"I like being out in nature, it's just good all-around physical exercise," said Lucille Allen of Essex.

"Wind in my hair," said Lorri Neiderer of Fairfield.

These women aren't the only ones taking to their bikes for activity and fresh air. In fact, many people are.

Bike shops are inundated with phone calls and emails. Sales are up, even with limited capacity.

"What I've never seen before is people reaching out and saying, 'Oh, I'm interested in a healthy lifestyle," you know? And so I think some of it is definitely a response to the health crisis that we're seeing," said Laura Jacoby of the Old Spokes Home.

Jacoby tells me her store's sales are up, with customers using bikes to get away from public transit, and the gym.

Even with her storefront closed to the public, they're still busier than ever.

"People feel like it's safe, right? You can stay away from other people, and of course with the weather like this it's nice to get outside," she said.

However, I'm told production of bikes, parts and accessories in China fell during the pandemic, as many expected sales to dip. But instead, people have taken to the streets to get their cardio fix, leaving a gap between demand for bikes and supply.

"It definitely has, because this is like my fourth time out this year and I didn't probably bike four times last summer, so it definitely has, it's a good way to get out," said Suzanne Murray of Williston.

At the Outdoor Gear Exchange, sales are up, too, hitting a near-record on May 19.

While they're moving 5-10 bikes a day, they're hitting a roadblock because of those supply chain problems.

"Like, pretty drastically. For example, I had to turn away a few customers because I just don't have their sizes. Most of our smalls to larges are basically sold out," said Frank Huseman of the Outdoor Gear Exchange.

I'm told many stores in the area are working around these supply issues, such as by selling used and refurbished bikes, and are still happy to do socially distanced bike fittings by appointment.