Shops Ordered Lots of Bikes in 2020. Peddling Them Is an Uphill Climb.


ElliptiGo Inc. Chief Executive Bryan Pate didn’t have enough of his outdoor elliptical bikes to sell when demand surged in 2020. Today he has a San Diego warehouse packed with too many bicycles that not enough people want.

“We were like a surfer who did not catch the wave,” said Mr. Pate, whose bikes start at roughly $1,500. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck battle to break even for the next 18 months.”

Many retailers that had too little to offer during the early stages of the pandemic now have too much of everything—from bikes and furniture to clothing and barbecue grills. They amassed the extra inventory because they expected sustained demand and supply-chain problems. What they didn’t expect is that customers would shift their spending to concerts, restaurants and travel, or that rising inflation would eat away at household budgets.

The resulting pileup of unsold goods forced many big national chains such as

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