The COVID-19 pandemic led, at least in places that weren't under hard lockdowns, to a kind of bike boom. As public transportation systems shut down or imposed severe restrictions, people who hadn't been on bikes in years were pedaling to their jobs (if they had to work in person) or to shop or run errands. And folks who were working from home were going hopping onto the saddle for exercise and to de-stress from being cooped up in front of a screen.
Like the Bike Boom of the 1970s, the COVID epidemic was great bike-related businesses--at least some of them, for some time. During the first few months of the pandemic, bikes and anything related them were flying out shop doors and keeping Amazon delivery workers busy. In time, though, some shops and web businesses became victims of cycling's newfound popularity. Shops ran out of inventory as supply streams dried up. Some kept themselves open by repairing bikes that people were resurrecting from basements and garages. But as cables, tires and tubes became difficult to find, they took to cannibalizing other bikes--until there were no more bikes to "harvest." With nothing left to sell or even use for repairs, a number of shops--including longstanding and prominent ones like Harris Cyclery--to close permanently.
Now there might be some secondary victims, if you will. Among them is Moore Lange, a UK distributor that went into receivership last week after more than 70 years in business. Their offerings included bikes and parts from a wide array of brands like Forme, Lake, Barracuda, Microshift and Vitesse.
According to Moore Lange director Adam Briggs, the company's troubles can be traced, ironically, to supply streams flowing again. Actually, the trickle or dry bed turned into a torrent: "[L]ots of stock arrived in the first quarter of 2022," he explained. "There was a year's worth of bikes arriving in the UK at that time"--just as the Boom was turning into murmur--"which meant there was a massive oversupply."
Apparently, in the UK as in other places, the demand for bikes and anything related to them is falling from its 2020-21 heights. Distributors and some shops now are overstocked, at least in some items, which led to "significant discounts," according to Briggs. Given that profit margins are significantly smaller for bikes than for other items, a decrease in sales has led to a "perfect storm" for some shops and distributors like Moore Lange.
The company's inventory will be auctioned off. If there is a silver lining in the clouds of this storm, it is for British cyclists who are looking for good buys on bikes and parts.
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