Brian Morris ran into an uncertain scenario when the coronavirus pandemic began to force the closure of countless businesses in the region.

If Arizona Governor Doug Ducey didn’t put bike shops on the essential business list, the Freeride Bike Company, which Morris owns along with his wife Ashleigh, would have had to close its doors indefinitely. .

Those stores were essential, Ducey said, which gave the business a boost as many Americans sought some way to get out and move.

“We have seen a noticeable rise in sales of all products, from bikes for walking on the beach to those for racing in the mountains or for road racing,” said Brian Morris. “Many parts, tires and tools, since there are many people who learn to do repairs at home, given the fact that many workshops are saturated. We have seen a rise and at times we have had difficulty meeting demand. ”

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on retail, as businesses across the country had to close their doors for weeks.

In the sporting goods industry, that impact has depended on business focus.

Stores that depend on sales made to customers entering their facilities have taken a heavy toll.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods chains in the country, was due to close all its stores on March 19, and licensed a significant number of its 40,000 employees in early April.

Only in recent weeks has the reopening of some stores begun.

Modell’s Sporting Goods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early March, but a judge approved an emergency petition to put the case on hold in the face of the pandemic.

The businesses that offer uniforms and other clothing for sports teams suffered a drop in their income, after a good part of the country’s leagues stopped their activities. Stores attached to sports facilities, such as ice rinks, have suffered hardships as well.

“It has been quite difficult, particularly given the cancellation of many summer activities. People are not asking for baseball uniforms as they normally do, nor are they wearing clothing from other sports that they cannot practice, “said Marty Maciaszek, director of communications for the National Association of Sports Product Companies. “So this is a little bit more challenging.”

On the positive side, some businesses in this field have flourished.

Sales of fitness equipment rose after gymnasiums closed. They jumped 130% in all categories, including cardio machines, weights, strength-building apparatus and other related products, according to NPD Group, a company that tracks retail.

Weightlifting banks were among the biggest hits, with a 259% rise in sales.

Meanwhile, the turnover of golf simulators increased 144% and that of mats to practice putt shot up 138%.

Companies selling bicycles and cycling equipment have had trouble meeting high demand. Sales of adult bicycles grew 121% in March. The increase was 56% in children’s bikes and BMX.

Kount, a fraud prevention company, tracked a 599% advance in sports product transactions during the week of April 19, compared to what was billed in the same period last year. He obtained the figure by tracking his more than 6,500 clients who do business online.

“We could see 5% here or there, something like that,” said Rich Stuppy, head of Kount to improve the consumer experience. “People don’t spend money, they don’t go out to restaurants. Then he asks himself: puedo what can I do? Maybe I’ll buy that golf club I wanted. ’”

Many smaller chains and local sports equipment stores have suffered a financial blow during the pandemic. However, the Association of companies of this turn has not noticed any new bankruptcy among its members.

And the so-called “Amazon effect” would have something to do with it.

When Amazon began to gain traction, sporting goods stores – like other retailers – were stung on their business. Shoppers were drawn to the low prices and convenience of buying from home.

Many sporting goods stores adapted by offering their own options online, allowing consumers to shop for products on their computers and phones, or simply to take a look to make sure a certain store had the product they wanted.

By changing their business models, stores unknowingly prepared for the pandemic.

Instead of making adjustments to gears or starting from scratch, retailers that already had a presence on the internet were able to continue selling despite the closure of their facilities.

“After what happened with Amazon, people realized that they had to show up faster online,” Maciaszek explained. “I think it did have an impact on the fact that it helped many small retailers prepare as well as possible.”


Investigative journalist Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report from New York.