I live in a county (Orange County, CA) with about 1,000 miles of bikeways, so it’s not unusual to see bikes wherever you go. I know there are plenty of other cities and counties across the country that embrace the bike culture, and now it seems like more and more of the nation is getting caught up in it.

According to a report—The NPD Group/ U.S. Retail Tracking Service/ January-March 2020 vs. 2019; March 2020 vs. 2019—cycling sales grew 31% to $1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2020. This seems to be linked to the advent of COVID-19 stay-at-home policies—since more than half those sales occurred in March. NPD suggests the sales increase is due to consumers seeking “stay-at-home fitness options and families reinventing recess due to school closures.”

Within the bicycle category, there were some standout categories, including:

  • Adult lifestyle bikes—up 121%
  • Electric bikes—up 85%
  • Trailers & trail-a-bikes—up 77%
  • Transit/fitness bikes—up 66%
  • Children’s bikes—up 59%
  • Front suspension mountain bikes—up 55%
  • Gravel bikes—up 20%

Also up significantly were sales of trainers/rollers (up 250%) and stationary bikes (up 171%) which, Dirk Sorenson, Executive Director, Industry Analyst, Sports for NPD, says is likely due to people looking for “new stay-at-home fitness options.”

Sorenson says this new interest “generates an opportunity for cycling retailers and manufacturers” to embrace a new group of customers interested in cycling. He advises the industry to “pay attention to two critical lessons we’ve learned recently: 1) the power of family cycling being an approachable, healthy, and safe activity, and 2) consumer willingness to invest in indoor bikes and cycling options for fitness.”

To appeal to families, Sorenson says the industry should examine how they position themselves, and suggest they start with retail merchandising. Independent bike shops, he says “should focus on family.”

Sorenson offers a lot more details here, but he believes large and sale bike merchants should “examine pricing to encourage both margin and approachability, so that more consumers feel comfortable buying and retailers can thrive.”

Finally he says research from NPD’s Innovation Lab show gyms have been greatly impacted by the global pandemic, so adding stationary bikes to your merchandise mix will help you benefit from the at-home fitness trend.

Bikes stock photo by Ira Budanova/Shutterstock