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By Mallika Mitra
August 13, 2021
Young woman standing in front of empty shelf in a supermarket
Getty Images

If you thought you’d seen the last of pandemic shortages when you replenished your toilet paper supply last year, you’re in for a surprise.

Tons of goods are still in short supply across the country, thanks in part to the COVID-19 delta variant causing factory shutdowns and labor shortages. That doesn’t just mean you’ll have trouble finding these products — it also means that when you do get your hands on them, they could be pricier than usual.

By now, you're probably no stranger to shortages. In 2020, it was hard to get ahold of cleaning supplies like disinfecting wipes, hand soap and paper towels. And you may have heard about the global chip shortage, which is making it harder to buy everything from Xbox consoles to smartphones.

But as the world continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, you might be surprised by some of the current shortages. Here are seven goods that you might have to hunt extra hard for right now, from golf balls to chicken wings.

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Tennis balls

Tennis balls are hard to come by, at least in some parts of the country, Vice reported. Players in online forums have been complaining about the lack of tennis balls, and Vice confirmed with manufacturers and distributors that there is indeed a shortage. A customer service supervisor from online retailer Tennis Warehouse told Vice that there are shipping delays, as well as reduced staff availability and productivity at manufacturing facilities due to COVID-19 protocols.

Pickles

The release of a new Burger King chicken sandwich was delayed in some midwestern states earlier this year. The culprit? Pickles.

“We have pickles for Whoppers, but these are very special bigger, crunchier, zesty pickles,” Jim MacDonald, vice president of operations for Burger King Grand Rapids in Michigan, told WOOD TV8.

It's not actually the pickles that were causing problems, but the pickle jars, which were apparently hard to come by during the manufacturing slowdowns and supply chain issues the pandemic caused.

Golf balls

Tennis players aren't alone. There’s a big shortage of golf balls this season too, according to GolfBallsDirect, a used golf balls distributor. Not only are the used balls the distributor accepts for its recycling process in short supply, but so are the big brand names. That's because of delays and factory closings in 2020, GolfBallsDirect told customers on its site.

Paper bags

While McDonald's might not have a pickle problem, the company is suffering from a different shortage: paper bags. The fast food chain recently told restaurant owners to limit orders of bags from suppliers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Other chains are facing shortages, too. In April, Starbucks employees told Insider that their stores were seeing a shortage of cups, flavored syrups and baked goods.

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Chicken wings

Before you stress out about which sauce should accompany your chicken wings, make sure you can even get chicken wings at all. There's been a shortage, which the National Chicken Council has blamed on harsh weather this past winter. Plus, demand surpassed supply during the pandemic, when take-out and delivery became everyone's favorite dinner option.

Dogs

They're cute, they're cuddly and... they're now getting harder to come by.

In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention temporarily suspended the importation of dogs from more than 100 countries that have been classified as high-risk countries for dog rabies, including China, India and Russia. Meanwhile, dogs were in high demand during the pandemic as everyone was stuck inside and looking for some company. More than one in five respondents (22%) to a Money survey conducted in March of 1,300 pet owners said they’d welcomed a new animal into their lives since March 2020. (The Cut recently even called rescue dogs a "luxury good.")

Couches

If you think about all the supply chain issues that are making back-to-school shopping more expensive, this one makes sense. Before furniture arrives at a store (or, thanks to online shopping, your doorstep), it relies on raw materials like lumber, labor and transportation — all of which are facing issues like factory shutdowns, overwhelmed ports and shipping and labor shortages.

“A sofa normally would take eight to 10 weeks in regular times. Now they’re taking 25 to 35 weeks for a special order,” the co-owner of Giorgi Brothers Furniture Showroom in San Francisco told Slate in July.

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