Fitness brands and retailers are stepping up to the plate after unexpectedly finding themselves in the UK’s front-line fight against Covid-19.
Brands such as Peleton and Zwift, alongside retailers such as Halfords, Evans Cycle and Wiggle are bucking the trend and experiencing an uptick in trade as shoppers search for ways to exercise and stay active during the lock-down.
Running and cycling allowed during the pandemic
The trend follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent announcement that people can break the Covid-19 curfew once a day to exercise ‘by going for a walk, running or riding a bike’.
The Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) said that its members have since reported a boom in budget bike sales. The UK’s biggest cycle chains, Evans Cycles and Halfords, had both closed temporarily but the ACT expects the majority of its members to stay open for now, as long as they can find a way to trade responsibly without putting staff and customers at risk.
Bike retailers gear up to support front-line staff
In a bid to help those on the front line, a number of bike retailers near hospitals have been servicing NHS workers’ bikes for free or at a discount, and Brompton Bicycle, the folding bike specialist, has lent 200 bicycles to staff at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London for a month to help them get to work.
William Butler-Adams, managing director of Brompton Bicycle, said: “We have a role to support people and keep them on the road.” He said sales had held up in the UK, but had “dropped off a cliff” overseas, where Brompton sends 75% of its bikes, amid shutdowns in Italy, Spain and France.
Virtual exercise takes off
Exercise brands, such as Peloton and Zwift, are also raising their game. Peloton, which sells upscale exercise bikes and app subscription exercise session, began offering new customers a 90-day free trial at the start of the pandemic.
Zwift, which relies on members using their own home-based static bikes, has reportedly seen session numbers swell to over 20,000 per ride, and are often joined by star-studded pro riders, such as Tour de France champ Geraint Thomas, who are also on lock-down.