indicatorThe Owl

The lighter side of supply and demand during COVID

With gyms closed during the lockdown, the demand for home fitness equipment increased and led to shortages of products like treadmills

By ATB Economics 10 September 2020 1 min read

A few of us on The Owl team were noticing our feathers were fitting a bit tight around our waists so we ventured out to purchase a treadmill to use at home.

“Sorry, we’re sold out,” was the response.

With gyms closed during the lockdown, the demand for home fitness equipment increased and led to shortages of products like treadmills. Bikes have also been riding out of shops in record numbers.

A perhaps less obvious example is recreation vehicle sales. RV dealers are reporting a surge in sales as people look for alternative ways to get out of town on vacation while physical distancing.

While not everybody built a new fence or deck this summer, more people did than usual and this led to empty racks where the pressure-treated 2 by 4s were normally stacked. The demand for lumber has also pushed prices up with homebuilders noting that this will add thousands to the cost of new homes.

Two of the first products we noticed flying off the shelves back in March were hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. (Toilet paper is a whole other story.) Hand sanitizer—in part because a number of breweries and distilleries stepped in and started making it—is back on grocery shelves, but the wipes are still hard to find with hospitals, schools, restaurants and other commercial users calling dibs.

These examples remind us of how quickly supply and demand dynamics can change and that large and small shifts will continue to take place as the effects of the pandemic linger and evolve.

The overall economic impact of the pandemic has been emphatically negative—just ask the gym owners whose customers are using treadmills at home or the airlines struggling to hold on. But, from laptops and children’s desks to freezers and online services, opportunities have also arisen.

RV dealers are reporting a surge in sales

RV dealers are reporting a surge in sales


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