Covid has been both a boon and a bust to the bicycle industry. Being quarantined led a great number of people to take down and dust off that old 26" mountain bike and enjoy one of the few freedoms left; cycling. This had lead to a huge resurgence in cycling and a subsequent demand placed on the cycling industry. Visit any cycling trail and you will see bicycles that are decades old ridden by helmet-less riders. Bicycle service in our area was backed up a week, then two, and now over a month for simple repairs. And getting the parts for those repairs is getting increasingly difficult. Items that were slow selling and ancillary are now selling out in a days, especially on the less expensive side of the market. Bike racks, helmets, lights, locks, tires, tubes; virtually anything related to cycling or getting back to cycling is selling out. We field calls all day long from potential customers that have called several stores looking for a particular product and questioning why it is so hard to find.
What has caused this was a perfect storm of supply and demand created by Covid. Demand went way up while a small on hand supply was quickly eaten up- then production stopped. Dealers are used to being able to re-supply inventory through suppliers quickly, which helps limit the amount of inventory needed to keep on hand. But once suppliers ran out of what was in their warehouses, which were shipping very slowly on a skeleton staff, they could not replenish. Most of the suppliers inventory comes from overseas, and with production stopped for several months it may take several months, or in most cases more, to get inventory back in stock once production starts again.
When we think of production we think of an assembly line with a big green "on" button. Once you open back up you hit the button and product starts coming off the other end of the line. In reality it does not work that way, especially for smaller manufacturers. Take for example a bike rack, made in the USA, but they are waiting on a few key parts from Europe needed to assemble the racks, and their powder coater has been shut down for two months and has a huge back log, and their own production facility had to be shut down for cleaning, re-designed, socially distanced and partitioned, oh, and their workers that build the racks have not come back to work because they were making more on unemployment! There are a lot of moving parts and most of them were in limited supply before Covid.
If you are that person that needs to buy a bike rack there is not much you can do right now. There may be 1-3 sources a retailer can get inventory from; either direct from the manufacturer itself or a supplier or two that carries a more limited supply. All dealers are fishing off the same pier, and when inventory dries up you will likely not find it by calling every dealer on Google. You might get lucky with a local shop that is not selling online and still has some inventory, although this is becoming increasingly unlikely. I explain this several times a day; if you want something it is best to pre-order it and get a place in line, if you wait for it to return to inventory it may be several months or next year. Many of our suppliers are missing restock dates, then missing them again, and again. And once product does return to inventory it gets snatched up sometimes in a matter of minutes. This will eventually right itself but for now patience, persistence, and pre-order.