It’s Not Just Bicycles and Toilet Paper in Short Supply

Recently my wireless keyboard started doing thisssssssssss, as they have a habit of doing after 12 months or so in our throw away society where new keyboards start at under $10.

So I visited my local Office Works and walked across to the computer and peripherals section, that I hadn’t visited since the pre-virus era.

I was greeted by the toilet paperesque scene you can see in the photo… metres of empty shelves. Why was I so surprised? A quick glance at the adjacent aisles revealed many other bare sections.

Following my trade journalist instinct, I then interrogated the closest Office Works employee to find out what the story was behind the empty shelves. Of course, they were not an official company spokesperson and I confess that did not disclose that if they said anything interesting, it might end up in a bicycle trade newsletter. But what they said had some noticeable parallels with the bike industry situation.

Apparently ‘back to school’ is their busiest time of year. They were just winding down from this when the virus was ramping up, similar to how Australia’s peak summer bicycle sales season was coming to its end.

Therefore, in both industries autumn is a time when stores and supply chains are looking to lower stock levels in anticipation of the quieter months ahead.

But with so many people suddenly working from home, the demand for extra keyboards to hook up with laptops, plus a range of other equipment needed to set up a home office, has been huge. So Office Works, despite usually looking so full of stock, was soon cleaned out of keyboards and other items.

“We’re getting new supplies but not fast enough,” the employee said, using another line that’s very common to hear in the bike industry at the moment.

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