NEW DELHI :
Bicycles are flying off the shelves in major cities, worrying distributors that they may run out of supplies amid a lack of spare parts from China and availability of workers in factories.
Sales zoomed after the easing of the lockdown in May, and a large chunk in demand came from fitness enthusiasts shut out from their gyms hitting the empty streets.
Jagdeep Singh, owner of Nanaksar Cycles, a south Delhi cycle distributor, said fitness enthusiasts snapped up cycles in the range of ₹10,000 to ₹25,000.
“There is still a lot of demand in the market, but most companies are not able to manufacture since there is a shortage of manpower in the industrial hubs. These days, we get half the bicycles we order in a month,” he said. “Also lack of supply of some parts from China, like shock absorbers and gears, has impacted manufacturing of medium and high-end bicycles.”
The exodus of migrant workers at the beginning of the virus-induced lockdown has impacted production plans for most manufacturers in sectors such as automobiles and fast-moving consumer goods, while border clashes with China further impacted production, with strict checks on imports.
Just like the automobile industry, cycle manufacturers depend on Chinese imports of parts for some premium bicycles, as they aren’t localized due to limited domestic demand. But these too are in demand now, retailers said.
“We are trying to ramp up production right now and factories are running on Saturdays and Sundays as well,” said Pankaj Munjal, chairman and managing director, Hero Cycles. “There are constraints on the production side due to lack of availability of workers, since migrants who went back are not feeling safe to return due to fear of a second lockdown. We have witnessed exponential growth in premium cycles in the Indian market.”
According to one of the biggest cycle distributors in south Kolkata, entry level cycles priced at ₹5,000-7,000 are still available, but the supply of premium bikes is under pressure as demand continues to rise every month.
“We are not offering any discounts these days since cycles are available at a premium. Our inventory has also depleted in the last two months or so, but the Chinese products are not selling as much and the supply of those bikes has also slowed compared to the pre-covid period,” added the owner requesting anonymity.
According to a study by Goldstein Market Intelligence in May, the bicycle industry is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% over 2017-30 in India.
“Sales in the last two weeks have come down to normal and supply is now becoming an issue. Once supply normalizes, we are expecting demand to stay for a while since gyms are not expected to open soon,” added a retailer in east Delhi, wishing to remain anonymous.