Whether for fitness or for short commuting trips, cycles became hot property through lockdown months in 2020 as more and more people in urban India chose to hop on and ride out. Such was the demand that premium cycles flew off shelves and those who were late had to wait for weeks for their purchases to arrive. Fast forward to current times and demand has slowed down considerably.
One of the biggest reasons for the burst in demand for cycles in Indian metropolitan cities last year may have been that while people were urged to stay at home, the Covid pandemic in its first wave was not as severe as it currently is. The occasional stroll on wheels in the evening - with proper precautions in place - may not have appeared to be a threatening proposition. Locked up at homes, many saw it as a way to break monotony while getting much-needed physical activity.
The second wave of Covid-19, however, has been far more menacing and at a time when people are being urged to wear masks even at home, stepping out may have become far riskier than before. This and the fact that a Lancet study published a report which points to strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted through air, has been a big source of concern.
Several retail shop owners in Delhi that HT Auto spoke to in recent days said that while demand has fallen since March, lockdowns haven't helped matters either. "Who would want to go buy a cycle when buying oxygen cylinders and medicines is the need of the hour?" asked Rakesh Pradhan, who owns a shop in South Extension which sells both premium as well as commuter cycles.
Another factor that may have also had an impact on sales is the changing weather. "Summer months usually sees a marginal dip in demand for cycles. This is more currently because of other factors at play too. We are getting digital orders for stationery cycles and treadmills but our stock of actual cycles remain largerly as is," said Kiran Singhvi who owns a shop near Jhandewalan.
The gloom isn't likely to lift anytime soon as the pandemic remains an omnipresent threat. And while cars, bikes and now even cycles remain firmly parked, staying home may have once again emerged as the best defense against the raging pandemic.