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Sports Belle River retailer says demand for hockey gear is surging

13:18  03 august  2021
13:18  03 august  2021 Source:   cbc.ca

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a person standing in front of a building: David Bellaire, owner of Belle River Source For Sports, said sales of hockey gear have double what they usually are this time of year. © Amy Dodge/CBC David Bellaire, owner of Belle River Source For Sports, said sales of hockey gear have double what they usually are this time of year.

Most minor hockey players in Belle River are lacing up for the first time since the pandemic hit, but while the ice rinks are primed and ready, sports retailers are scrambling to get more hockey equipment on their shelves.

The doors at Belle River Source For Sports opened in July after COVID-19 restrictions were eased. Young hockey players came in droves, according to the owner, desperate for new gear.

"Our hockey has been very busy this last month. Everybody is checking their bags and finding they've outgrown their gear," said David Bellaire, owner of Belle River Source For Sports.

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Retailers say a combination of home renovations, new construction, discounts for energy-efficient appliances and pent-up demand following store closures last spring have led to record sales. "We've never had more backorders in our history," he said in an interview. "We've got thousands of backorders now because of surging demand ." Compounding the spike in orders is sluggish supply, with manufacturers operating either below capacity or paring down inventory to focus on more popular models.

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Bellaire said hockey sales are double what they usually are for this time of year. But trying to bring in more equipment to meet the demand has been difficult.

"It's a challenge, suppliers haven't been able to keep up with demand. Everybody knew this was going to happen but there are also shipping challenges," he said.

One shipment of custom hockey pants arrived five months after Bellaire ordered them. He said that is two months longer than usual.

Enrollment down

While it might be a bit more difficult to find gear, the local minor league is reporting a lot of room for enrolment.

Paul Gray, president of the Belle River District Minor Hockey Association, said that by the end of July, the league typically has 600 players enrolled, but right now only 300 have registered.

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Sales of fitness gear , gadgets and apparel have skyrocketed during the pandemic as homebound consumers have scrambled to build home gyms, loaded up on sneakers and downloaded fitness apps by the millions. “As soon as the lockdowns took effect, the home-fitness business took off like wildfire,” said Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry adviser for the NPD The trend has stretched through seasonal changes: The surge in bicycle and kayak purchases recorded in the spring and summer is now manifesting in cold-weather gear such as cross-country skis, snowshoes and outerwear.

a man riding a skateboard up the side of a road: Paul Gray, Belle River District Minor Hockey Association president, said the board was surprised to see reduced enrollment. © Amy Dodge/CBC Paul Gray, Belle River District Minor Hockey Association president, said the board was surprised to see reduced enrollment.

"We as a board were surprised. We'd normally expect to see higher numbers at this time of year," he said.

The league is going to advertising on social media and billboards to try and attract more players. It has extended registration by another month, until Aug. 31.

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