Americans love sporting goods more now than before Covid-19

In the US, there’s so much demand for dumbbells they can be near impossible to find for sale online. Kettlebells have been in short supply, too. You can add bikes to that list, and also kayaks.

In fact, Americans have been buying up all sorts of sporting goods as they try to keep fit during the pandemic. The shopping spree has sent sales at sporting goods stores soaring above pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

In June — the most recent month with figures available — total retail sales at US sporting goods stores reached $5.5 billion, up from $4 billion during the same month last year. They surpassed their 2019 peak as well, which occurred in December when the holiday rush lifted sales to $5.1 billion.

While Covid-19 has kept Americans out of the gym, many have turned to home fitness or taken up outdoor sports as they look for ways to exercise away from crowds. Research firm NPD Group recorded a surge of interest in outdoor activities in June, traditionally a big month for the US outdoor industry as summer is in swing. Bike sales across the many US retailers it tracks rose 63% over last year, sales of products for paddle sports such as kayaks and paddleboards grew 56%, and golf equipment sales jumped 51%.

The month marked a strong rebound from April, when large numbers of US sporting goods stores were closed and sales plunged to a low of $2.5 billion. “Whether this rise was caused by simply catching up on postponed sales remains to be seen,” the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis noted in a blog post today.

Whatever happens with sales of new items — shoppers may not need additional bikes or dumbbells once they’ve bought what they need — home workouts and outdoor activities are likely to remain popular. The US continues to report thousands of new Covid-19 cases daily, and a return to pre-pandemic gym routines is still far off.

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