A revival in the U.S. economy is driving up demand for everything from plane tickets to dinner reservations. Many companies that stand to benefit can’t keep up.

Diners are streaming into restaurants but owners can’t find enough people to cook or serve their food. People are shopping for cars in record numbers but dealers can’t fill their lots. Americans are getting back on planes but the future of the more lucrative business of ferrying international and business travelers remains in doubt.

The reasons companies are struggling to cash in on the surging demand range from labor shortages and supply-chain woes to an uneven global recovery from Covid-19.

The checkered nature of this economic resurgence is a fresh challenge for certain corners of the business world, particularly restaurants and retail, that are playing from behind. After a lost year, they can’t afford a lost opportunity as the country reopens. On…

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