ASHEVILLE, NC (BRAIN) — The bike industry likely will never tally all the delays and extra costs that resulted from the federal government shutdown that ended Thursday. Many shops lost sales as local federal workers were out of work, and many businesses dependent on national park tourism were harmed, although that was eased somewhat when some states paid to open the parks.
Suppliers had other challenges — some of them quite unexpected.
The shutdown closed the Federal Communications Commission, which must approve all wireless transmitters before they go to market. That includes products that operate on the ANT+ and Bluetooth wireless protocols. LeMond LLC was preparing to release a new wireless power module for its Revolution stationary trainers when the shutdown began. Soon after, LeMond product manager Evan Solida found that his calls to the FCC were going unanswered.
"None of the parts are iffy, they are all tested, but we still need to get that (registration) number from the FCC. But I wasn't hearing back ... it didn't hit me until then. It's not good timing for us: I can't get answers, I can't submit the application," Solida said on Wednesday, as the Senate prepared to vote on the legislation that eventually ended the shutdown.
He said the shutdown delayed the introduction at a key time for indoor training products.
"It was going to be available at the beginning of November," Solida said. "Now I'm not sure, it might be delayed a few weeks."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission was running on a skeleton staff during the shutdown, only processing product recalls that presented an "imminent threat" to human life. No new bike-related recalls were issued during the shutdown. The CPSC also approves bike helmets and regulates whether helmets on the U.S. market meet its safety standards. Those functions appear to have stopped during the shutdown. During the shutdown consumers could continue to submit complaints and reports about unsafe products to the CPSC website, but a CPSC official told The Huffington Post that no one at CPSC would be monitoring those reports during the shutdown.
After a week of closures at national parks, many of them re-opened under state funding, including all the parks in Utah, where October is a key month for mountain bike tourism. It was still expensive to deal with the temporary closure, and the uncertainty about how long it would continue or if the state funding would run out, said Ashely Korenblat, owner of Western Spirit Cycling, a Moab, Utah-based tour company.
Western Spirit had to re-route several trips planned for the week when the parks were closed.
"We came up with different routes, but I threw a whole lot of money sending guides out to scout routes," Korenblat said Wednesday. On Wednesday, with the resolution of the shutdown still uncertain, the state funding of the parks was set to expire in a few days, leading to more uncertainty, Korenblat said. "It's hard to make plans when we don't know what lands we are going to be able to use in a few days."
National Retail Federation president and CEO Michael Shay released a statement Thursday about the conclusion of the shutdown.
"As we head into the holiday shopping season, retailers and consumers need stability and certainty from policymakers in Washington and assurance that the economy will not implode due to their actions or more important, lack thereof. This new norm of legislating from crisis to crisis is no way to govern," Shay said.
“Our economic recovery is retail-led and consumer-driven, and political leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue need to stop undermining consumer confidence with partisan posturing. When consumers cut back their spending, it threatens jobs in every industry. If it’s bad for retail, it’s bad for the economy, and ultimately the biggest losers are American taxpayers."