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P&A shortages mirror bike delays

Published June 22, 2020

TACOMA, Wash. (BRAIN) — While retailers scramble, wait and hope for the replenishment of popular-priced bikes, accessory supplies in similar low-tech, low-priced categories aren’t much better.

Mike Brown at Tacoma Bike anticipated some shortages and missed the boat on others. “I stocked up on a bunch of repair basics as in chains, brake pads and tires. I failed to buy enough 26” tires for the barn-find conversions,” Brown said. “The simple 3x7 or 3x8 basic shift/brake levers are gone. And whoever thought water bottles would be nearly impossible to replenish?”

Meanwhile Steve Lubanski at Open Road Cyclery in Altadena, California, said he's run out of 26" tubes and is having to substitute 27.5".

Distributors are having similar challenges. John Sandberg, marketing communications manager at QBP, reported that while they still have inventory, they’ve seen massive sales volume increases in all tire categories, stationary trainers and children’s products.  

In terms of specific products, “We’re challenged to maintain inventory in some specific areas, some of which seem logical, others surprising,” Sandberg said. “For example, we expected shortages on comfort saddles and gel saddle covers. And it’s less obvious why we’re selling so many composite platform pedals.”

J&B is having similar issues and opportunities. “Inventory has been spotty on all essential repair parts,” said Mitch Gurdjian, CEO. “Comfort saddles, freewheels, wire bead tires, tubes, baskets, baby seats, have all seen outages, and each category has stock arriving throughout the season.”

Large operations like Ian Christie’s five-store Bay Area Summit Bicycles chain have not been spared the shortages. “We’re running out of helmets, floor pumps and baskets,” Christie said. “I always take floor pump sales as a good indicator of who’s shopping in our store. I'm good at managing back-orders and pre-orders for bikes, but doing the same for accessories is a much bigger challenge,” concluded Christie.

As far as the supplies coming in from Asia, “The inventory challenges speak to supply as well as demand,” said QBP’s Sandberg. “There was definitely a disruption in the supply chain because of the pandemic, and we would normally have received planned-for inventory that is stalled because of that. And it’s also important to note that we will continue to see new inventory coming into our distribution centers.”

Brown summarized the P&A inventory situation and the impact of COVID-19 in general: “This bubble might pop tomorrow or hold for a while. Who knows?”

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