Bicycles in demand in pandemic, but parts shortage drives up prices

National/World

Bikes became one of the new hot new hobbies during the pandemic, as people looked for more ways to explore the great outdoors – and avoid public transport.

London cycle shop Pearson Cycles has been making bikes since 1860.

The current surge in demand is not a surprise for them.

“Every single humanitarian disaster has resulted in an upturn in the cycle industry, every single one: Second World War, First World War,” says Guy Pearson.

But COVID-19 has made keeping up with demand tricky.

Factory shut downs in Asia and the blockage of a key supply route when a ship ran aground in the Suez Canal delayed deliveries.

It’s meant costs have risen.

“First of all, it was complete bikes, then we had supply issues around bike frames, some of which were stuck on the Ever Given (cargo ship that was stuck in Suez Canal), which you know, and then we’ve also had supply issues in terms of componentry. So gears and brakes and that sort of thing,” says Pearson. 

“There has been a price increase. And now it’s not something that we lightly pass on to the customer, and we’ve actually managed to absorb quite a lot of the pricing increases. They haven’t been price increases because there was more demand. They have been price increases just because they were going to be anyway, no matter what.”

One of those cost-boosting factors is rising inflation.

The Consumer Price Index hit an almost three-year high in June of 2.5 percent.

Goods are becoming more expensive for businesses and consumers alike, just as the UK is hoping for a post-pandemic economic recovery.

The Bank of England says inflation will increase further this year  – to double its target rate.

But the institution’s governor believes it’s a blip and will return to normal levels.

“Those things we fully expect to be temporary. The world will come back to normal. There are things that we are watching very carefully because I want to emphasize that we don’t take this lightly by any means. We think it will come back to target. That’s what we expect. But we are watching,” says Andrew Bailey.

Labour shortages are also a factor, affecting industries such as haulage and hospitality.

In the UK, more than a million people are still on a furlough scheme designed to protect jobs in sectors that have been unable to operate during the pandemic.

And Bailey is confident that those who find themselves out of work as that scheme winds down will quickly secure new employment.

“Even for those people who unfortunately won’t be able to go back to the job they had, the rate of vacancies at the moment is high. So there are jobs out there to be done.”

The Bank of England has said the Delta variant and widespread requirements to self-isolate to prevent its spread have put the brakes on economic growth.

But it’s confident it won’t last for long, and the UK’s economy will be back on the road to recovery soon.

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