‘It’s been crazy’: Outdoor sports stores face low inventory and high demand amid COVID-19 – Lethbridge
Demand for outdoor sports equipment in Lethbridge is on the rise this year, according to several city hardware and equipment stores.
Some believe that the increase in demand and the resulting lack of inventory is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kayaking, canoeing and mountain biking
Abby Pohl, sales associate and kayak instructor at High Level Canoes & Kayaks, said she was surprised at how early people started shopping this year.
“This has been crazy,” Pohl said. “People are planning ahead this year because they realize that last year things went fast.”
Pohl said the recreational kayaking season usually intensifies closer to June and the summer of 2020 is quite busy for rentals and shopping.
There are concerns that supply may not keep pace with demand as this season approaches.
“We had a lot of actions a few months ago, and we are already at limited numbers,” she explained. “We’re hoping to get more, but due to all the delays due to COVID, it’s definitely a bit rare.”
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Down the road at Alpenland – a local ski and bike shop – the situation is about the same.
Marketing and web operations manager Joe Molina said impatient customers were cleaning their entry-level mountain bike shelves while there was still snow on the ground.
“Those who were diligent got there early, they got their bikes,” he said. “Anyone who comes in now and expects uptime to be normal is sadly disappointed.”
“We would love to be able to provide everyone with what they are looking for, (but) the availability just isn’t there right now.”
Molina said the store had a list of customers who have prepaid their bikes, but that all hope is not lost on those who are still looking; he suggests keeping an eye on their website as inventory arrives.
“We expect a lot more bikes to arrive, and we’ve actually continued to see shipments arriving every week, every two weeks.”
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Skateboards, small equipment, team sports
If you don’t want to wait for a set of wheels, considering a skateboard or longboard might be more achievable than a bicycle.
Boarderline co-owner Brian Smith said their inventory seemed pretty stable at the moment.
“I think they got it right this year. But yeah, last year was impossible to get skateboards, wheels or trucks or whatever, ”he says.
A longtime skater himself, Smith is encouraged to see the rise in interest and expects sales to be stable through the spring and summer months.
“There was a massive influx of young kids who got into it,” Smith explained. “(There is) a huge progression of female skateboarders in town, which has been great to see.”
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JD Clark, deputy director of Doug’s Sports, said that while the store is doing better than this time last year, things are still tough with a layer of uncertainty with team sports.
“We’re used to being so busy in March, April and May especially,” he said. “But now we’re probably an eighth of what we usually do.”
Despite the decline in sales, Clark is hopeful things will improve over time.
“The summer is going to be busier, I think,” he says. “As the weather improves, people want to be more outdoors, and that will generate more interest.”
Clark said some of their most popular items today are baseball and football equipment.
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