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For the nation’s bicycle shops, the past few years have probably felt like the business version of the Tour de France, with numerous twists and turns testing their endurance.

Early in the pandemic, a surge of interest in cycling pushed sales up 64% to $5.4 billion in 2020, according to the retail tracking service Circana. It wasn’t unheard of for some shops to sell 100 bikes or more in a couple of days.

The boom didn’t last. Hobbled by pandemic-related supply chain issues, the shops sold all their bikes and had trouble restocking. Now, inventory has caught up, but fewer people need new bikes. So, bicycle makers have been slashing prices to clear out the excess. It all adds up to a tough environment for retailers, although there are a few bright spots like gravel and e-bikes.

“The industry had a hard time keeping up with the demand for a couple of years, but then demand slowed as the lockdowns ended, and then a lot of inventory started showing up,” said Stephen Frothingham, editor-in-chief of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. “So now for the last, a year and a half, the industry has struggled with having too much inventory, at the supplier level, at the factory level, at the distributor level, at the retail level.”


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